6 Movie Sound Effects and How They were Achieved

Sound design is quite interesting; there’s no doubt about it. Having said that, some sound designers have truly gone above and beyond to achieve the perfect sound for a particular movie scene. From sci-fi greats thrilling action films, we’ve probably all wondered where some of those sounds come from. You’ll be surprised, and even confused, when you hear how some of these designers find the perfect effect.

When you think about it, it’s obvious these sounds had to have been created from scratch, as we have no known recordings of alien communication. So how do these sound designers create these interesting movie sound effects? Let Creative Media Design in NYC fill you in.

6 Movie Sound Effects and Their Surprising Origins

It’s a wonder how these designers create such realistic and convincing sounds and, no matter the means necessary, these professionals can tackle nearly any sound. From Chewbacca’s growling yell to the Transformers mothership crash, these sounds effects took some odd work and practice. Let’s take a look at how these unworldly movie sound effects were made.

  • Star Wars | Lightsabers: Ben Burtt, Star Wars sound designer, used the hum of a film projector to get the right sound for the lightsabers, yet he needed something else. One day he walked by a TV set while carrying a mic and discovered the perfect “swooshing sound.” He combined the two sounds and the rest is history.

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day | Nanomorph: Remember the T-1000 robot and its ability to “nanomorph” through bars? The sound design team recorded canned dog food being dumped out.

  • Jurassic Park | Dinosaurs: When we think of dinosaur sounds, we think of Jurassic Park, but the sound designers had to work hard to find the right sound. Though researchers suggest dinosaurs may not have had such rumbling roars, the designers didn’t care. They recorded a variety of wild animal sounds and tweaked the sound, with sounds from  a whale, lion, alligator, tiger and more!

  • War of the Worlds | Alien Tripods: We all know the terrifying sounds Michael Babcock provided for War of the Worlds, but the alien tripods are his proudest work. Derived from the sounds of roller coasters, trains, and a bike chain, all these sounds combine to create the sound of the alien tripods moving.

  • The Dark Knight Rises | Bane: Realizing it was hard to understand Bane when masked, the sound designers for The Dark Knight Rises tried a variety of methods to clear up his speech, though the best solution was playing his voice from the front three speakers of the theater, rather than the a single speaker. As a result, Bane possessed a significantly different tone and sound throughout the film.

  • Signs | Aliens: Because the audience doesn’t see the aliens until the end of the film, Signs’ sound designer Richard King needed to create a walking noise for the aliens that would keep the crowd on their toes. King used goat and horse legs from a taxidermist and recorded the legs walking around the set.

Movie Sound Effects: Were You Surprised?

So, there you have it: the secrets behind some of the most well-known movie sound effects. Did any of these sounds surprise you? Clearly, sound designers are quite the creative type. Whether it’s creating a terrifying scream or a convincing alien noise, these pros always make it work. Could you have thought of anything better? Try creating some of your own!

While we can’t supply your production with the whooshing sounds of a light saber, Creative Media Design can surely provide you with the best in voice talent, dubbing, and narration. For more information, browse our site or contact us today.

Voice Over Agents NYC: Do You Need One?

As a voice actor, finding work can become a daunting task. If you’re new to the game, landing a job is even tougher, and you may need a voice over agent to help you through the process. Be wary, however, as voice over agents aren’t always necessary, not to mention they are much harder to come by as a newcomer. Regardless of your status as a voice actor, an agent may be the deciding factor in scoring more gigs, but you’ll need to be careful in your search for such. No need to worry, though, as the pros at Creative Media Design NYC can lend a hand.

When seeking voice over agents, or deciding to call on one, you’ll need to consider a few things: Do you actually need an agent? When is a good time to go about finding one? What’s the best way to go about the process? In an effort to simplify your decision or search, we’ve gone ahead and answered these questions and more. Take a look.

Voice Over Agents NYC: What a Good Agent Will Do

Selecting an agent to represent you isn’t as simple as choosing one and saying they’re hired. A great agent will demand the same of you as you do them. Essentially a voice over agent’s job is to represent qualified talent and present said talent to casting directors, producers, ad agencies, and more. Within this, their work gets a bit more complicated. Get the details on what voice over agents do below:

  • Agents build relationships with creative directors and ad agencies to find clients work, whether that be at animation companies, TV networks, or radio production houses.

  • They screen incoming talent, only selecting those who have experience and expertise, which should always be displayed on a demo.

  • If an agent likes what you’ve got, they’ll include your talent on a house reel that’s sent to various producers to choose from.

Simply put, if an agent doesn’t find you work, they won’t get paid. In turn, you can assume quality voice over agents are out there seeking jobs and sending out your demo. So, how can you find voice over agents who will accomplish all of this?

Finding Quality Voice Over Agents

The first step in acquiring voice over agents in NYC is creating a demo, as you’ll need something to show for. Great voice over agents will only work with established actors, and your demo and resumé will need to prove that. Along with a sufficient demo, you’ll want to send out a cover letter and resumé, but headshots are always a good idea as well. Once your demo is ready to go, you’ll need to consider doing the following:

  • Submit Your Demo: Once you have your demo, cover letter, and resumé, it’ll be time to start sending it out to your ideal voice over agents.

  • Follow Up: Persistence can pay off. You should follow-up with potential agents by emailing them weekly until you get a response.

  • Know What to Say: In your follow-up, simply ask if you’d be a good fit. Don’t ask them their opinion on your demo, as this doesn’t look professional.

Is a Voice Over Agent Right for You?

Clearly, finding voice over agents isn’t a simple process. As with anything in life, landing a voice acting gig comes with hard work and persistence. To better your chances, get a professional demo completed and send it out alongside your cover letter and resumé. If you’re interested in finding work as a voice actor, you can submit your work here with CMD in New York City.

If you’re a production company looking for professional voice talent, you can view our talent here.

What Is Sound Design

You've heard it in nearly every movie or TV show you've watched. You can even hear it in the theater and on the radio. It's sound design: the process of manipulating, fabricating, or creating audio elements to generate a certain effect and evoke emotion within the audience. It doesn't end there, though. Sound design is utilized in a range of disciplines to convey messages, provide dramatic effects, create ambiences, and more.

In many cases, you'd be unaware that sound design is even a factor in production. Imagine an eventful scene in one of your favorite films. Whether it's a building collapsing or a car chase scene, chances are the sound you hear wasn't recorded alongside the image you see. More often than not, that sound is produced later on in the studio.  

What Constitutes Good Sound Design

Good sound design can be defined as seamlessly integrating sound effects with visuals in a way that's unnoticed by the audience. When the audience is unaware that the sound effects they hear were produced separately from the actual visual, the sound designers did their job right. A common misconception in sound design is the louder, the better. While wall-shaking explosions can create a dramatic effect for the audience, creating loud sounds is certainly not the essence of sound design.

Additionally, good sound design may depend on the emotion it evokes within the audience, regardless of visuals. Sound effects often play a key role in the audience's reception of the production. Whether it's subtle ambiences or a theatrical impact, that added sound can ultimately affect how the audience perceives the production. Simply put, good sound design doesn't have to rely on high volumes.  

Importance

Though often overlooked, sound design can be a crucial factor in the success of nearly any production. Speaking mostly in terms of film, sound design plays a key role in how the audience perceives a production and how they are affected by it. Some notable examples of great sound design in film are the opening battle scene in Saving Private Ryan designed by Gary Rydstrom, the voice of Wall-E by sound designer extraordinaire Ben Burtt, and Walter Murch’s incredible work in Apocalypse Now. As mentioned, sound is manipulated and fabricated to achieve a desired effect or mood. Without it, that effect is lost.

From radio commercials to film productions, the importance of sound design remains the same. It's essential in effectively projecting messages, evoking emotion, providing suspense, and much more. If you’re looking for quality sound design for your next production, consider Creative Media Design in NYC. You can contact us here to learn more about our services.

Building Your Own Home Studio

When it comes to recording audio, time in the studio can really add up in cost. As time adds up, everyone involved in the session may feel the need to rush in order to save on expenses, yet  rushing through recordings never yields favorable results. In an effort to save on the price of recording, as well as adding the convenience of recording audio whenever you need to, building your own home studio may be the best option. While the process will require time and money, it can truly pay off in the long run.

DIY recording studios present a number of benefits in addition to saving costs, but before you get there you need to follow the correct steps and find the right equipment to really reap the rewards of your very own studio.

The Right Location - Sound Isolation

Preference is the main factor in deciding where to put your home studio, but you must also consider how well a room will contain sound and provide isolation from your neighbors. Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot for your studio, you’ll want to ensure it’s properly isolated for recording. Here are some ideas for optimal recording:

  • Sealing – Using common materials such as foam or rubber, seal the doors to your studio, and any visible air gaps, to keep the sound in (and your neighbor’s sound out!). This affects both the quality of your sound and the peace of your neighbors.

  • Ventilation – Once your room is sealed, you’ll need ventilation so you and your equipment can breathe. These vents may need to be covered by an acoustic box, as you’ll have compromised a bit of your insulation with the vents.

  • Raised Floors – Sound is vibrations. Vibrations will travel easily from room to room through material that is touching one another. Raising or ‘floating’ the floor for your recording room will reduce the vibrations that are carried throughout, providing much needed isolation. Foam padding and particle board are materials that can be used for this.

Recording Quality - Acoustic Treatment

The materials used on the walls, ceiling and floor of your DIY studio play a critical part in the overall quality. These materials will either reflect, absorb, or diffuse the sound. The choices that you make, such as wood floor versus carpet, or sheetrock walls versus foam panels, determine not only the quality of the audio recorded by your mics, but also how accurately you hear the sound coming from your speakers. This affects all the decisions you make, from mic placement to mixing.

  • Reflection - Hard materials such as sheetrock and glass will add reflections to your sound which is usually problematic. These materials will make your sound too ‘live’ and it will be difficult to listen properly.

  • Absorption – While you can easily soften your sound with carpet and other furniture, it is highly recommended that you use proper absorption on the walls and ceiling, such as prefabricated or DIY acoustic panels. A ‘dead’ room will let you hear your sound more accurately.

  • Diffusion - An acoustic diffuser is material like wood that provides some reflections without making them too echoey. Some diffusers in studios are recommended.

Recording Equipment

After you’ve correctly isolated and treated  your studio, it will then be time to start rolling in the equipment. This is where money will really become a factor, but don’t take the cheap way out. As mentioned, you’ll save money in the long run. If price is a major factor or you are a beginner, here is what you’ll need to get started:

  • Computer – A fast computer is best for recording, but when money is a constraint, you can use what you have.

  • DAW and Audio Interface – The Digital Audio Workstation is the software used to record and edit your sound. The audio interface will connect your computer to your other equipment.

  • Monitors –  Monitors (or speakers) are a very important consideration. You will listen to all of your sound through the monitors you use. Make sure you get pro audio monitors which have a ‘flat’ response, rather than using home hifi speakers which will color the sound you are hearing. Keep in mind, the larger the monitor the lower the bass frequencies it can reproduce. A small sized monitor will not be able to playback low bass frequencies.

  • Microphone – There are a large variety of mics that range in price. You won’t want to take the cheap route here. Most studios have one high-end mic and an assortment of cheaper ones as well.

  • Headphones – Professional headphones are very important in your home studio. Closed headphones are good if you need to keep the sound from bleeding out onto any open mics.

  • Cables – You’ll need an XLR cable for your mic—be sure to get a good quality mic cable. Cables for most everything else can be fairly standard.

Get Started!

There’s a lot of work that goes into building your own home studio, but more often than not, the work is well worth it! You’ll save on costs and have access to your studio as you please. There are many online resources for learning these details. Be sure to do your research, and your work building your home studio will be rewarded.

What Happened to the Mid-Atlantic Accent?

Often referred to as a “strange” or “odd-sounding” way of speaking, many people seem to be unaware of the Mid-Atlantic accent. However, this classic accent played a large role in early American Cinema, and its use goes much further. In fact, the Mid-Atlantic accent, also known as Transatlantic, dates back to the early 1900s primarily acquired by the American upper class and American actors.

So, what makes this accent stand out from the rest? The Mid-Atlantic accent is a cultivated way of speaking. In other words, the accent didn’t derive from a specific location, nor did it arise naturally. It features a conscious blend of American and British English and favors neither. What, then, caused the accent to gain popularity and become so widely used? Take a look with Creative Media Design in New York City.

Origins of the Mid-Atlantic Accent

While the Mid-Atlantic accent didn’t arise naturally, it was cultivated into American Cinema, as well as the American upper class. In terms of cinema, many acting schools in the early 1900s taught the accent as a standard, which is why countless films, newsreels, and radio shows up to the 1940s feature voices with the Transatlantic accent. Because the accent has since faded and decreased in popularity, we often see the question, “Why do people in old movies talk weird?”

However, “weird” doesn’t do the accent any justice, as it was actually used by elite cultures like the aforementioned upper class and political figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt. Similarly, many other figures outside the entertainment industry were known for using the Mid-Atlantic accent, including William McKinley, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Carrie Fisher. Though use of the accent dropped significantly after World War II, some well-known figures have adapted it in more recent years, such as musician and producer Mark Ronson.

Mid-Atlantic Accent: Well-Known Voices

While we’ve mentioned several big names who’ve adopted the Mid-Atlantic accent, there are several actors who will be remembered for their perfect practice of the accent. The first name that comes to mind is Katherine Hepburn, of course. Though consciously adopted, Hepburn’s accent was loved by many, as were the accents of the familiar faces to follow. Check out our list of well-known voices, both old and new, who perfected this elegant accent:

  • Kate Winslet (in Titanic)

  • Mark Hamill (as the Joker)

  • Harry Shearer (various characters in The Simpsons)

  • Brad Friedel

  • Orson Welles

  • Elizabeth Taylor

Still Popular Today

Adopted by the British and Americans, the Mid-Atlantic accent was cultivated to be understood by both, which may have impacted its initial popularity in cinema. Whichever the case, the accent is still used to some degree today and is seemingly growing in popularity, as it’s again becoming sought after for various media productions.

If you’re interested in finding a Mid-Atlantic accent for your next production, check out Creative Media Design’s voice talent! On our site, you can sample a variety of accents. Plus, you can always call us at 212-213-9420 for assistance in choosing the right talent.

Getting the Right Radio Mix

When it comes to mixing spots for the radio, there are a number of factors that come into play in achieving the perfect sound. These factors are important in your overall sound too, as you’ll want your spot to sound its best to attract listeners and stand out from the crowd. From balance to clarity, attaining the perfect mix for radio is important, and it’s not an easy task.

 

A poorly mixed spot may be noticed by listeners as a bad commercial, ultimately affecting the reception of your message and negatively affecting sales. To achieve success on the air you need to mix like the pros, and while your spot may sound great when played back on your own device, that may not be the case when played over the airwaves.

What to Avoid

Often times when you’re seeking that great sound in your mix, inserting significant amounts of processing such as compression and EQ don’t result in a better sounding spot. Additionally, layers and layers of sound effects may reduce the clarity and impact of your mix and ultimately create a muddy sound when played on the radio. Mixing for the radio presents a variety of things to both include and avoid. Some of these factors may include:

  • Excessive Compression: Radio stations often add compression to your completed track, resulting in a distorted sound. Generally, too much compression does not translate well to radio.

  • Cluttered Sound Effects: The overuse of sound effects on a spot can present problems when played over the radio. ‘Less is More’ is a rule that definitely applies here. Use sound effects selectively, making sure that each sound effect adds to the overall story.

  • Balance: It’s a good idea to create multiple mixes to test your levels. Mix your spot a few different ways and play it back on various speakers to see which mix translates the best.

  • Panning: Avoid any extreme panning. You don’t know the quality of the listener’s playback system—one side of their speakers could be out. Also, listeners in their automobiles may not hear something panned to the opposite side from where they are sitting.

In addition to the tips above, other factors that come into play when achieving the perfect mix include the right amount of brightness, and refraining from the overuse of EQ. Dynamic range is also a key factor in radio mixing. Give your track different peaks of sound throughout, as dynamic range is defined as the range of volume of different elements in your audio. Don’t forget that silence can be as effective as loud sound!

Things to Keep in Mind

As you work on the perfect sound for radio, you’ll want to consider the variables that play a part in the reception of your radio track. For instance, your audience may be listening through low-quality speakers. So, while your track may sound fantastic through your high-end audio equipment, the listener could be hearing something completely different. Using cheap speakers or headphones as reference monitors, you can ensure your track sounds great through a variety of outputs. Ensure your track has the right sound by mixing at a lower level to correctly hear all parts.

Additionally, your radio track should sound great from the start. An awesome sound effect that ‘pops’ right at the beginning of your spot can immediately draw your listener in. Make sure you keep the voice overs prominent and clear, you need to be able to understand everything that is being spoken. Don’t let a loud music track distract from the voice message.

Leave it to the Pros

A great sounding radio mix isn’t easily obtained. For those who struggle for a perfect sound, Creative Media Design offers radio mixing and sound design to help your track stand out from the crowd. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you and take a look at our range of services for all of your audio needs.

Why Audio is Important to Your Video

Many different variables go into creating a high quality video. Whether it’s a personal project, a TV spot, or a web video, the most often repeated mistake is focusing on video quality over audio quality. In fact, audio quality is just as important, if not more important, than video quality.

We have all turned on the TV only to have one channel’s audio a split second behind the video. This is frustrating and can cause viewers to quit watching almost immediately. Older TV shows didn’t have the technology or crystal clear picture quality we have today, but they were able to sync up a good audio recording and we still watch the reruns today. Why? Because audio can play a more significant role in regard to your project’s overall quality than a stellar video alone would.

Many beginners start out by purchasing an expensive camera to ensure their video quality is top of the line, but they rarely spring for the same high-end equipment when it comes to their audio needs. In reality, a video clip can have flaws, like pixelation or blurriness, yet the final product can still be a quality production if it has crystal clear sound. If the audio, however, is distorted, muted, or out of sync it can distract the viewer from even the best quality video.

There are many reasons why audio has a greater impact on the overall quality of a video than the actual video quality. For example, videos are an art form and minor quality errors can actually improve the video by giving it an artistic feel. This is not the same for audio such as voice over and dialog, which will frustrate the viewer if they have to pay extra attention to try and understand what is being said.

Because videos can be more abstract, any video of moderate quality will have the ability to pull the viewer in. If the audio is off, on the other hand, it will leave the viewer confused, and odds are they won’t remain interested for very long.

If you are interested in some of our voice talent actors for a voice over, you can view their work samples here. If you are ready to get started, you can contact us here for details on your project so we can get started.

Top 5: Best Voice Actors

As discussed in a previous post, voice over plays a major role in media. The right voice affects how a commercial product, lifestyle brand, film or TV show is perceived by its audience. A VO delivery might even be successful in altering a production’s overall impact. Additionally, casting and directing the perfect voice is crucial in creating quality content. From radio commercials to the silver screen, voice over is a great tool and vehicle to draw in an audience and create a unique, personal experience.  

In the world of film and TV, there are many actors and actresses whose voices stand out from the crowd. Maybe you heard the perfect comedic tone, experienced a sentimental feeling or got pumped for an upcoming event. Whichever the case, the prominent voices to follow have had a major impact on the film and TV industry, and have become household names.

From Seth MacFarlane’s range of cartoon voices to Christopher Walken’s distinct cadence and delivery, there are many characteristics that define a memorable voice. In front of the camera or behind the mic, these prolific voices are some of our favorites.

  • Morgan Freeman: Currently, Morgan can guide you to your next destination on Waze, but this iconic actor has played the role of God in other instances as well. From heavyweight brands like VISA and NFL to countless film, narrations and TV promos, his velvet voice is unmistakable.

  • Sigourney Weaver – Most often cast in roles of great strength and stature, Sigourney’s resonant voice can be heard over the beautiful landscapes of Planet Earth and a variety of big-name animated films like Avatar and WALL-E.

  • Jon Hamm – Luxury meets smooth and sexy with Jon voicing the Mercedes Benz campaign, but his voice roles also extend to the deep and daring. You can hear his voice on American Airlines commercials and in a number of animated feature films.

  • John Krasinski – Mr. Krasinski may persuade you to buy car insurance while he takes a break from lending his voice to Carnival Cruise Lines. The goofy Office star even works with big names like Kodak, Puma, and AppleTV.

  • Wanda Sykes - Aside from her comical Applebee's ad and starring in multiple Gain Detergent commercials, Wanda’s sarcastic and striking voice even makes an appearance in big screen animations like Ice Age: Collision Course.

Suffice to say, the importance of casting well-known voices for commercials is clear. We may know them from the big screen, but when we hear their voices promoting a brand or lifestyle it brings a heightened level of credibility to the messaging. And who are we kidding—advertisers know it, too!

If you’re producing a commercial or narrative of your own and need a distinct, authentic voice for your brand, contact CMD today. We’ll cast the voice over talent to best suit your brand, budget and messaging.