Full Body Foley

My favourite genre to work with is Fantasy. You can do so much with the sound because it is based in a world that is only limited by imagination. Dragon roars, magic spells and epic battles give a lot of scope to sound design and are a lot of fun to plan and perform when adding Foley to a soundtrack.  The video below shows me putting down one take of the sound on a mountain top fight scene.

We used two AKG 414s, one aimed at the feet to pick up footsteps (cornflour for snow) and thumps on the wood, and the other further up to pick up the metallic jingle of chainmail. The belt pulls in the waist to create a cinch point, deadening the upper chest area for a more muted sound and amplifying the waist and thigh mail sounds.

Shoes are incredibly important when doing footsteps, as different sole patterns and thickness produces different sounds. For the bandit in this scene, I chose a running shoe has they have a thick rubber sole and deep grooves, to produce a more crunchy snow sound (as opposed to slippery or wet snow) and a heavier thud when stomping and jumping.

This sequence was used for a creative commons project I am working on at Salford University, putting down all the sound on a 7 minute film clip. We have opted for Sintel, made by the Blender Foundation, which is an epic short film about a girl who finds and befriends a dragon.

Noise Reduction Testing

I am always willing to help with something that benefits the health and protection of other people.  In this experiment at Salford University Acoustics department I was subjected to loud white noise with and without the hearing protection used on board helicopters.

The test was to determine the attenuation of the noise when active noise reduction was applied to the helmet.

The noise reduction system seemed to affect the frequency content of the noise, filtering out a lot of the low end, which would be incredibly useful for avoiding the sound of spinning helicopter blades.

FB360 Spatial Workstation

In experimenting with the FB360 VST for one of my favourite DAWs, Cockos Reaper, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to pick up and use, even for one who has never done anything in 360 degree audio and only touched on surround sound. The absolutely free download comes with template projects for Pro Tools, Reaper and Nuendo.

The template starts with a track listing and a helpful note on each telling the user what kind of information to put on each track. If it is unclear in the below image, the orange tracks are used for objects to be panned and the green is for head-locked objects, which do not change position based on the way the head is facing.

FB360 tracks

The panning is done with an incredibly useful VST called the FB360 Spatialiser. A 360 video can be loaded into the Audio 360 Video Player, also free, and set to slave mode. Simple as that, the video appears in the VST window.

FB360VidPlay FB360Spatialiser

The sound can then simply be dragged to the appropriate place using the blue circle (pictured above with the number 1). The distance slider, on the left, is another incredibly useful too for positioning sounds.  360 Audio is something I am looking forward to working with a lot more in the coming months. The post production of our version of Sintel is underway, and I hope to get out a mix containing height elements using some of these techniques.

Note: I discovered this useful tool for acquiring 360 videos to practise audio with: Wondershare Video Converter. Really simple to use, just download the program, copy the URL of the YouTube video you like and it produces a demo copy for you to practise on. It can be trialled for free or purchased for $60.