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Entries in Robots (2)


The Yeti that Inspired the Robot

There are a lot of really great things going on in the sound design community on the web, and one of the coolest things is the "Sound Design Challenge" being put on at the Dynamic Interface site.  Each month a new challenge is put out, with a list of restrictions of what can and can not be done and just one week to complete the challenge.  I have been wanting to take part in one of these for a while but have always been just too busy with current projects to be able to jump head first into the competition.  In January I finally got a chance to make an attempt, the competition was, to come up with a set of vocalizations for a hypothetical "Yeti" and the challenge's imposed restriction was that you could only use your own voice and processing to make a range of emotions for this fictional Yeti.  So the usual tricks of grabbing lion roars or other animal attacks and manipulating them to create a new creature was not allowed. Each entry had to have a vocalization from their Yeti for anger, confusion, curiosity, happiness, breathing and pain. 

Sadly I don't really feel like I put my best foot forward as I was not able to spend much time polishing my entry, so I think it was pretty forgettable to the judges.  The upside though was all the people who entered agreed to make a library out of all the submissions.  So I got a ton of crazy new monster sounds for future projects.  I have even used a few already to make the sounds for a rabid grizzly bear attacking an RV in the middle of the night (Mostly the Yeti submitted by "Farley").

Here is my submission for the Yeti competition, again this is all based on my voice:

Yetti AzimuthAudio by azimuthaudio


As a I mentioned I am not overly proud of the outcome for my submission but I did get inspired by the exercise and have used the idea in an animated series I am working on now.   In the series a string of new characters have arrived that are giant robots (see previous post for a quick look at their servos), each robot on the show is partnered with a character already established in the series.  The giant robots kind of act as an extension of this original character, so I wanted there to be an audible connection in the voices of the robots.  So each robots "roar" is based on a yell from the robot's partner that I have used as a base element.  In the clip below, I have lined up an evolution of the one of the roars from the original actors yell through to the final version (and then back again) with a few examples of how it changed as more processing was added to the original.
Over all the original roar has been processed quite a bit, going through the following plugins:
GRM Tools Warp
GuitarRig 3
AIR Phaser
Pitch Shift
AIR Ensemble
Reaktor With Toxonic'c Glitch
(Not in that order)
Basiacally this is the same exercise as the competition but instead of my voice as the base I am using the characters.


I was able to do something similar with a different character.

Mech Roar C by azimuthaudio  

This roar ended up having an almost mechanical servo type sound.  Could be a robot vocal or a element of a mechanical arm movement or something along those lines.

Basically I was able to take some techniques I used in the Sound Design Challenge to use in real work but mostly the challenge was able to shake me out of my routine on how I was building Monster/Creature/Robot sounds.  Hopefully I can find the time to enter future competitions through Dynamic Interface because it seems you get more out of it then you think you will.

Get the shirt!


Flashlight Servos

One of the things that sound editors are seemingly always in need of is servos. They are needed for just about anything sci-fi or futuristic, and even lots of scenes that are supposed to be happening around us in present day.  Mechanical grinds and whirs, hydraulic lifts, robotic movements these are all great ingredients to build the sounds of the servos in the movies and TV shows we all love. A lot of these sounds come from everyday house hold appliances recorded and then processed into huge sounding robot movements.

Recently a small SFX company called Rabbit Ears Audio released a whole collection of household servo/small motor recordings.  It includes audio of just about everything you can plug-in in a kitchen (blenders, mixers, coffee grinders, juicers ect) as well as a thorough run through of everything in the toolshed (circular saws, dremel, drills ect) and a real robot called a "Maker Bot".

This is a great, invaluable collection that has come in very handy on one of the series I am currently working on.  In the show there are a bunch of new massive, 10 story high, robot characters and I have spent a lot of time coming up with sounds to make these creatures really come to life. While the Rabbit Ears collection has been great but I have been on the lookout for more sounds to build the robots out of and recently I hit the jackpot with this little wind-up powered flashlight.

The sounds it makes as you wind up the crank has a lot of definition and depending on how fast you crank it you can get a wide variety of characterization from it. Here is a little section of the recording session I did with the flashlight.

Flashlight servos by azimuthaudio

I used these recordings as a base to build the sound for a sequence where one of the robots chest opens up and a giant weapon comes out, then this weapon powers up with a visual glowing. Currently I can not show a clip as the episode will not air for several months but I think you can still get an idea of the sequence. Here is an audio evolution of the how the flashlight sound was integrated:

Flashlight EVO Final by azimuthaudio

The first sound is the raw flashlight servo edited to match the timing of the animation.  Next up is the servo processed by pitch-sifting it down a bit, adding some modulation and GRM Tools "Warp" plug-in.  The final sound is the full sound effects mix including all the other sounds that went into the this sequence.