Another week has passed and that means more updates, yay! This week unfortunately we’ve been pushed back a bit in a schedule however, the obstacle was great fun and worth the experience! This time we’ve begun work on ‘The Lion King’ our longest scene in this project at five and a half minutes.
Recording The ADR
So far we’ve managed to finally wrestle up all of our voice actors and lay down all of the dialogue components of characters: Simba played by Guy Gray (picture unavailable), Mufasa played by Gaute Rasmussen, Zazu played by Akshay Kalawar and Scar played by Perry Horner.
The Lion King is well under way with ALL ADR components recorded and edited along with minimal score composed over the weekend which will near completion by the end of this week! So far all of our sessions have run very smoothly with a professional level of actors and proficient session organisation we have encountered minor obstacles, however we have come across a few severe set backs over the past weeks with data loss and software malfunctions.
Apparently, each time we open our sessions the video file sometimes disappears and other times doesn’t, as well as an issue with our composition platform ‘Kontakt’ we seem to receive a CC#7 error automating our volume to nil. If any of you have answers to these issues my ears are wide open!
November 4th, was the day we took on the tediously time consuming task of recording, implementing and editing the foley components of our biggest scene as you can see above our list of foley is quite lengthy… We started at the beginning recording Jackson creating footsteps for Simba by tapping his legs, along with utilising pre-recorded sounds we already had in our music library for the sound of the twig as the chameleon climbs off. In this scene we’ve addressed the ADR, score and foley components…
Up until this frame I’d say this section is complete…
After this we nervously began the stampede’s wall of noise, we’ve used various components to achieve the rumble of the herd HOWEVER! we did not use any online sound library audio which was our goal for this project… Jackson had creating a rumbling sound using some synthesisers prior to this session which we imported and manipulated them using varispeed warping to a suitable pitch, this laid down a base… We’ve duplicated the stampede track multiple time and shifted them slightly so they sound different, although still in some sort of pattern as the animals are running in unison there’s bound to be a pattern among them. We plan to position these layers using the effects of panning in 20 degree increments to enhance the intensity of the scene. However as we sought advice from Guy he suggested as this is a great idea that we should constantly be checking to ensure that there are no phasing issues, perhaps placing them slighting off from the LEFT and RIGHT side will eliminate this concern.
As you can see there are times where the stampede aren’t present when the characters appear a distance away, to effectively portray this we’ve faded out the hoof sound of the wildebeest and the rumbling of the herd remain such as the scene below.
Throughout the five minutes there are moments where the wildebeest make a sound when they hit the ground or running through the cannon, so we enjoyed the little things and we created our very own wildebeest sound which was HILARIOUS! Jackson recorded myself making what I thought to be a sound the this beast would make which kind of came out like a grunting moo… and this guy was the inspiration for it!
Jackson used the method of warping my vocal using varispeed manipulation to make it sound un-womanly and more like a wildebeest, we then layered together elements of a rock hitting the ground and some gravel scrapes… Together this created the perfect sequence…
Another important although to most probably unnoticeable element was the flapping sound of Zazu’s wings, to achieve this I engineered an apparatus to simulate that flapping sound… I call it
The Wing Flapping Apparatus
As you can see I’ve constructed four tomato stakes into a square using vine ties to hold them all together. Then I placed a tea towel in between them to ensure there’d be as little noise as possible however we encountered an issue with our wing flapping apparatus, unfortunately the shotgun and C414 microphone that we were using picked up the slight squeaks between the stakes.
After listening back to the recordings we tried EQ the wood squeaking out but unfortunately we couldn’t so we had a re-think as to how our apparatus would operate and thanks to Tay and Jackson they re-arranged the wing flapper so it didn’t make any sound… Of course it was no where near as impressive as the first contraption but it did the job way better 🙂
The Improved Wing Flapping Apparatus
This way was much more effective as there was no contact between the stakes, even though these foley sounds are quiet there are just as important as any other part of the scene, it’s one of those things where if it wasn’t there it’d be weird…
Composing The Score
This is a major work in progress! However what we had made so far is a solid effort and sounds great, it suits the scene as the chameleon crosses the screen and Simba gives him a cheeky roar. Reflectively the choice of instruments and rhythm they play convey the visual emotions on screen which is what composing is all about… This will be updated as time goes on…
Mixing and Editing
Let me start with… holy shit! This has been the most time consuming, stressful and tedious component of our project. With so many foley elements, you adjust to suit for a short sequence then it effects the next sequence and then you do a circle and start again! But we’ve managed to make it work, over the past couple weeks we’ve been working as hard as we can to complete our final mixes for the CEO showcase… Which was a success! After a class WIP presentation in week 10 we received feedback from our peers and guest Dan, who had some great comments to make in terms of fattening up the stampede as it is the most climactic component over the six minutes.
Originally we had two contrasting tracks to support the stampedes roar throughout the canyon, a recording of cups on dirt and an electronic rumble. We were able to duplicate these multiple times, EQ them differently in order to avoid any phasing issues as well a new technique suggested by Dan that we had not considered. He suggested we use a drum trigger to enforce the intensity of the stampede, we accomplished this by using the sonic content of a kick drum then rolling off the high frequencies to support the electronic rumble we had designed. In addition to the cups we had recorded for the hoof sounds on the wildebeest by complementing them with a tom also rolling off the high frequency content, this technique implemented the intensity that we were missing within the scene.
Our final deliverable is to present our work in a 5.1 surround sound mix which as allowed us to impress our listeners with the immersive feeling of the stampede from the great depths of the SUB!
Mixing in 5.1 is a huge task thankfully with the help of my production team Jackson and Tay we’ve been able to some what successfully execute our project… Having additional ears and opinions has been our greatest tool within the project, as I might be focusing on the musical elements and I might not even be noticing something that happening elsewhere, fortunately my team does. We have a great team dynamic and we all have a strengths which allows us to support the others in areas where we may not be so confident.
Over the trimester we’ve adapted a monstrous amount of mixing and mastering techniques from Guy, utilising frequency automation on the snares to increase their impact and meaning within the scenes. We also found that our timpani drums weren’t cutting through the mix among our newly adapted stampede sound, in order to change this we simply duplicated the timpani track boosted the percussive strike to drum skin, compressed it and hey presto! Hello timpani… However after referencing our WIP on conventional speakers we found that we had gone a little over board with these cool new ideas. We have adjusted them appropriately and it has really changed our mix for the best.
Guy had also taught us a technique that we could apply to our dialogue content even though there’s not a lot of it, the dialogue that is there is crucial! We had applied a UAD Precision Limiter to our dialogue bus allowing us to pull 3dB off the dialogue resulting in an impactful presence with in the track. Applying a second limiter to the master bus adjusting the ceiling to sit just above the score meant we could push the overall loudness of the scene, on the other hand ensuring we didn’t compromise the intensity of the dialogue. UAD’s Multiband Limiter which cleaned up the low frequencies produced by the stampede as well as tightening up some of the dialogue and mid-range instruments.
However this is just one of four scene that needs our attention I definitely know that there are millions of techniques that I need to improve on and learn, my knowledge of these techniques are still fresh and I’m consistently applying them as often as I can. Unfortunately my ears aren’t tuned quite well enough yet, however I will try, try again and hopefully one day succeed! Our final stereo mixes will be available on Friday the 11th of December, if you wish to listen to the surround version you are more than welcome to contact one of us and we can supply you with the goods! Stay tuned, as we are busy, busy to the finish line!