Bird Box sound Asbjoern Andersen


Bird Box had a record-breaking debut at Netflix, with around 80 million viewers watching it in its first 4 weeks of release. In this new A Sound Effect interview, supervising sound editors/sound designers Glenn Freemantle and Ben Barker get you the story behind the sound for this mysterious tale:
Written by Jennifer Walden, images courtesy of Netflix. Please note: Contains spoilers.
Please share:

In Netflix’s film Bird Box, a mysterious entity has plunged the world into an apocalyptic state.  Although no one is sure what it is, there is one certainty — if you look at it, you die. Sane survivors no longer venture outside without wearing a blindfold. The story follows Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and a crew of survivors who find themselves in the precarious situation of trying to scavenge for supplies while blindfolded all while avoiding a supernatural creature that’s trying to destroy them by making them commit suicide. Plus, there are crazy survivors walking around not blindfolded, who also pose a threat. Malorie and her two children seek refuge at a camp of survivors but to get there, they must navigate down river through dangerous rapids and then trek through an unfamiliar forest… all while blindfolded, of course.

Supervising sound editors/sound designers Glenn Freemantle and Ben Barker of Sound24 (based at Pinewood Studios) worked with Director Susanne Bier to create the sound for a creature that is never seen. They also craft a chaotic apocalypse scenario that mixes supernatural elements with organic sounds, and help to heighten the feeling of confusion for the blindfolded characters through a creative approach to mixing and panning.

Video Thumbnail

 

How did you prepare for work on Bird Box? What were some of your initial ideas for how this film could sound?

Two men smile as they stand and sit near their soundboard.Glenn Freemantle (GF): Our prep work on Bird Box was challenging but very exciting.  How do we create a soundscape of an unseen monster in a post apocalyptic world?! Our initial ideas involved working with fear and tension — what sounds could we create that weren’t over processed or too other worldly? How could we imply that fear is all around us without being too sci-fi? As crazy as it sounds we had to think of what would this really actually sound like!

 

How did you approach the sound of the unseen ‘monster’ in the film? Did filmmaker Susanne Bier have a specific ideas or references for how she’d like it to sound? How did you collaborate to find the sound of this supernatural entity?

GF: The sound of the unseen monster was a constantly evolving process. We worked very closely with Susanne Bier and Ben Lester (Editor) to land on a series of designed sounds that would play in a number of scenarios, which could build into climatic scenes as well as support the quieter moments.

We worked on various layers of the creature, the first being whispers. This was the main way victims were convinced to commit suicide. They could communicate with their victims by getting into their heads and convincing them to take their own lives.

The next layer of design was the movement of the creature. We needed to feel that they were moving around us, like a constant threat that was surrounding us. We used swarms of bees as our core sound to do this, which was very effective.

Finally, we decided on the idea that the creature would have an “attack” element, something that would be used in the bigger scenes to work as a sonic cinematic tool to tighten tension.

As far as references go, Susanne wanted us to start from scratch, to design something original which was great fun for us!

The film crew looks at the footage on camera screen.

What was your process for creating the windy-whispery sound that indicates its presence?

GF: Our process involved recording a lot of whispers! When we were recording the loop group we played them the gusts of wind we had laid as part of the design. The idea was that the whispers could be in time and flow together to heighten the creepiness as well as support the feeling that we are surrounded by this presence at all times.

Susanne was interested in giving each moment its individual detail, no matter how small.

After that we put them into a sampler with a few other design elements to create the weird-whispery sounds you hear throughout the movie. Each time we tried to use specific phrases, which would relate to that particular scene.  Susanne was interested in giving each moment its individual detail, no matter how small.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Weapons Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds Play Track 800+ sounds included $80

    Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds is a sfx library recorded for police / military related film or video games. Recorded at 24/96,(real guns and soft/air guns) with 3 microphones (omni, cardioid and shotgun), you can use one sound or mix the 3 layers together for more impact!

    Key Features:

    Library ships in 96kHz, 24bit
    408 files, more than 800 sounds
    Effective workflow: well-grounded Soundminer Metadata
    Add to cart
  • Foley Lethal Blow Play Track 983 sounds included $49.99 $34.99

    Lethal Blow is a collection of high quality fight sound effect. It features 925 sound effects; 600 source recording and 325 designed sound effects. It comes loaded with all sorts of sounds – from simple punches to multi-layerd crunchy blows and and meaty hits.
    All source sounds ware recorded with top tier microphones; Sennheiser MKH8040 and MKH8060 at 192kHz/24Bit with a Sound Devices recorder.

    Collection consists of two main categories:

    DESIGNED 96/24 (325 SFX)

    Bone Breaks – Crunchy breaks, snaps and tears.
    Grabs, throws and blacks.
    Bright Punches – Punches with meaty bottom and pronounces “beef slap” transients.
    Crunch Punches – Punches layered with bone breaks and cracks .
    Dark punches – Punches with more of a deep, organic, thump-y sound.
    Rips and tears – Fatality-like, gory tears.
    Simple Punches – Organic sounding, deep punches that consist of only few layers (compared to other punches).
    Punches “Xtra” – Punches without Arm movement/scuffle/whoosh – just a hit that you can layer with your own woos/scuffle
    Skull crashes – Gory, slimy skull crashes and splits
    Swooshes, whooshes snd scuffles.

    SOURCE CONSTRUCTION-KIT 192/24 (600 SFX)

    Scuffles, arm movements and whooshes – Cotton, denim and nylon.
    Snaps – Leak snaps
    Flesh drops – Dropped oranges
    Cotton transients – Cotton hoodie hit with a soft drum mallet
    Real chest punches – Closed fist
    Meaty punches – Beefy, organic punches (punching beef steaks).
    Lettuce punches and smacks – Deep, wet lettuce punches plus exaggerated transient sounds.
    Real chest smacks – Open fist
    Meat movement – gory, slimy, beef movements.
    Meat Slaps – Beef steaks dropped on a tile floor with pronounced transients
    Small crack – cracking eggshells
    Bell pepper rips – Tearing, ripping apart Bell peppers for crunchy snaps and cracks
    Whooshes and swooshes – Airy whooshes
    Fabric Movement – random, cotton cloth whooshes and multiple swishes.

    325 designed sound effects will get you started right away and save a lot of time when cutting fight scenes.
    600 high quality source recordings will allow you to design all kinds of punches, bone brakes and gore sound effects from scratch, exactly to your taste.

    All sound effects are highly tweakable. You can fine-tune them to your liking; pitch them up/down to remove/add weight whilst retaining details and clarity.

    Download includes:
    96-192KHZ 24BIT version (925 SFX/562MB)
    44.1KHZ 16BIT version for Unreal Engine (925 SFX/264MB)
    192KHZ 24BIT BONUS source recordings (58 SFX/30MB)
    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Sennheiser MKH8040 + Sennheiser MKH8060
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: RX, Pro Tools, Brufri, DMGAudio, Sonnox, Fabfilter

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576709999
    Add to cart
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Electro-Mechanics Toolkit 2 Play Track 860+ sounds included $67 $53.60

    The “Electro-Mechanics ToolKit 2” Sound Effects Library features a wide range of versatile electro-mechanic motors, engines, tools and toys.
    All waiting to be cut up, layered, edited and mangled with FX to become spaceship engines, robot movements, sci fi doors, weapon mechanics.
    This library is not meant to be a comprehensive tools library but rather a composite toolkit to bring futuristic electro-mechanic machines, devices, weapons, vehicles, … sonically to life.
    All cleaned and edited for direct use in your upcoming projects.

    All sounds have embedded BWF Metadata.

    Categories:

    Air Compressor • Angle Grinder • Band Saw • Belt Sander • Bowling Alley Machinery • Buffing Machine • Turning Lathe • Buzz Saw • Chop Saw • Doors & Shutters • Electric Drill • Electric Screwdriver • Electric Wood Plane • Evacuator • Film Projector • Fine Blanking Tool • Fretsaw • Grinding Lathe • Hand Blender & Mixer • Hoist Industrial • Industrial Vacuum Cleaner • Jigsaw • Mechanic Toys • Metal Saw • Milling Machine • Stationary Drill • Strimmer • Toy Helicopter

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576623599
    Add to cart
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles RC Cars | Reely Core Buggy Play Track 170+ sounds included $35 $28

    Looking for sounds of a remote controlled car? Here you go: This sound effects library features 170 sound effects of the Reely Core RC Car. You get several on-board and external driving sounds, pass-bys, close-up steering mechanics and idling mixtures, and of course some crashes. All sounds are edited and cleaned for direct use in your upcoming sound design projects. All sounds contain detailed BWF Metadata.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576623599
    Add to cart
  • Foley Crockery & Surfaces (Empty) Play Track 64 sounds included $20 $17

    A library containing a number of objects being picked up, put down and moved around on a number of surfaces including wood, glass and metal.

    15 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576623599
    Add to cart


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Since the characters are blindfolded, they rely on sound to determine what’s going on around them. What were some of the challenges/opportunities you had while creating these blind-fold scenes?

Taking out all the surrounding atmosphere and concentrating on the breathing and spot sounds helped us to create the confusion of the space she’s in.

GF: The blindfold scenes presented us with some fantastic sonic opportunities.  It really allowed us to go inside the character’s head. To do this, we used both sides of the shot to help us to feel the jeopardy the character was in when blindfolded. Increasing the natural surroundings on the exterior before we went to the POV allowed us to really immerse ourselves into Malorie’s perspective. Taking out all the surrounding atmosphere and concentrating on the breathing and spot sounds helped us to create the confusion of the space she’s in. We also played with levels and panning, which added to what we were watching on-screen.  We hear a sound but where did it come from and how far away is it?

 

Can you talk about creating the sound for the scene inside the car when the group is on their way to the grocery store?

GF: The car scene was our first real physical contact with the monster, which was pivotal for the audience. Before that, the encounters had just been its presence. The characters had only felt what was going on around them, but this was its first connection.

To do this, we had to continue the monsters sound language from previous encounters and then progress it into a scary crescendo. Using our base elements, we progressed the scene by layering human and animal sounds to really punctuate the horrifying situation that was going on outside the car.

A woman carries her children through a garden as they wear blindfolds.

How about the sound for the rapids scene on the river?

GF: The river and rapids was a really great sequence to work on. Here we were back to using natural elements to create our tension instead of the supernatural. We had to enforce the idea that Malorie was taking on this fierce river with Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) and Boy (Julian Edwards) in a small tin boat. It was a very dangerous situation, especially whilst they were blindfolded.

We worked with all organic sounds to do this, which was a great moment to step back from the ethereal world we were set in.

 

And of course their final trek through the woods on the way to the School for the Blind. That was a really intense sequence. What went into the sound work there?

GF: The final trek through the woods to the school was approached in three separate sections designed to come together sonically for one complete end sequence.

The sound at the start was intended to create complete confusion for Malorie. We had to be sure when she was blindfolded that we had no sense of how far away she was from anything — is it next to me, or over there? Where did the sound come from? As mentioned, the panning and levels of design here really came into effect. Constantly moving design and dialogue went into the sound, again to confuse Malorie and the audience.

From there, the creature went into full attack in the final chase leading up to the door of the School for the Blind, which is where we entered the final part to our sequence. Working with the score, it was very important to feel every emotion of Malorie’s pain and emotion, to be close with her horrifying situation as she pleads, “Just take the children.” Working closely with the actors, we played their screams and crying which took over from the creatures around them to push everything into this emotional, terrifying climatic moment.

A concerned woman and man sit in a house with their children.

What was your favorite scene in terms of sound? What went into it?

We moved from the real to the surreal of the creature attacking whilst working in concert with the fantastic score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

GF: There were a lot of scenes that we really enjoyed in terms of sound, as each situation within the story line brought its own challenge. Having talked about the car, the rapids, and the end sequence, I’d have to say the opening from when Malorie leaves the hospital. It’s such a great sequence. The world is plunging into the darkness but everyone is in such a confused state. We moved from the real to the surreal of the creature attacking whilst working in concert with the fantastic score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. When the cast reach the safety of the house you really do find yourself able to breathe again. It was a great scene to really build the sound throughout.

 

Did you do any fun field recordings for this film? If so, how were those sounds used in the design?

GF: We got out to record some forest and rapids. It was important to us to have completely organic sounds when we could in a film, which was heavily designed around fiction.

 

Sound-wise, what are you most proud of on Bird Box?

GF: I think the film as a whole to be honest. It was such an exciting project to be a part of. We were given such a fantastic creative director in Susanne, who encourages the use of sound design. I have to say we’re proud of it all.

 

A big thanks to Glenn Freemantle for giving us a look at the quietly intense sound of Bird Box – and to Jennifer Walden for the interview!

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Animals & Creatures Amazon Jungle Play Track 49 sounds included, 357 mins total From: $95 From: $66.50

    Amazon Jungle is a collection of unique ambiences recorded in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. The library was recorded during the rainy season when birds are vocal and humidity is at its highest. These recordings feature species such as the Screaming Piha, Toucans, Howler Monkeys, Trogons, Tinamous, Owls, very vocal Bamboo Rats and a multitude of insects and frogs.

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576537199
  • Foley Footstep and Foley Sounds Play Track 812 sounds included $10

    Footstep & Foley Sounds contains 511 high quality professionally recorded footstep sounds. Surfaces included: concrete, dirt, grass, gravel, metal, mud, water, wood, ice and snow. Plus 141 Foley sounds covering a variety of character movement sounds. A perfect addition to add realism to your footstep sounds.

    This pack also includes a variety of 160 bonus sounds effects from our full library Pro Sound Collection. ALL sounds from Footstep & Foley Sounds are included in Pro Sound Collection so if you need more sounds be sure to check it out before purchase.

    Add to cart
  • Environments Quiet Spaces Play Track 47+ sounds included, 139 mins total From: $25

    In films and documentaries there are often images of people in spaces speaking to other people, who are listening attentively.

    The recordings of the person doing the talking are pristine from the set. The recordings of the rest of the room don’t exist. Room tones of empty spaces don’t possess movement and life that your soundtracks require for these situations.

    Quiet Spaces is a collection of recordings of people gathered in rooms of various sizes and not talking

    Libraries are a natural place to capture these environments, and so a high quality stealth kit made from a pair of Sanken CUB 01s discreetly placed from a backpack onto empty tables in various libraries. We also got access to a university campus right at the end of finals week where we recorded out in the open with a pair of MKH50s in ORTF. We captured an entire class taking a test, as well as various other lightly and sparsely populated spaces in and around campus.

    Locations captured include:
    • 5 different public libraries
    • multiple perspectives per library
    • 6 locations on the UNT campus
    • 1 class quietly taking a written test

    The end result is a beautiful set of recordings of quiet spaces that are still filled with texture and movement.

    Available in two versions:

    Full version:
    • 24 bit, 96 kHz stereo wav files
    • soundminer and bwav metadata tags
    • photography
    • 4.8 Gigabytes of sound
    • 139 minutes of sound
    Lite version:
    • 16 bit, 44.1 kHz stereo wav files
    • soundminer and bwav metadata tags
    • photography
    • 1.48 Gigabytes of sound
    • 139 minutes of sound
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Weapons Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds Play Track 800+ sounds included $80

    Weapon Mech & Reload Sounds is a sfx library recorded for police / military related film or video games. Recorded at 24/96,(real guns and soft/air guns) with 3 microphones (omni, cardioid and shotgun), you can use one sound or mix the 3 layers together for more impact!

    Key Features:

    Library ships in 96kHz, 24bit
    408 files, more than 800 sounds
    Effective workflow: well-grounded Soundminer Metadata
  • Foley Lethal Blow Play Track 983 sounds included $49.99 $34.99

    Lethal Blow is a collection of high quality fight sound effect. It features 925 sound effects; 600 source recording and 325 designed sound effects. It comes loaded with all sorts of sounds – from simple punches to multi-layerd crunchy blows and and meaty hits.
    All source sounds ware recorded with top tier microphones; Sennheiser MKH8040 and MKH8060 at 192kHz/24Bit with a Sound Devices recorder.

    Collection consists of two main categories:

    DESIGNED 96/24 (325 SFX)

    Bone Breaks – Crunchy breaks, snaps and tears.
    Grabs, throws and blacks.
    Bright Punches – Punches with meaty bottom and pronounces “beef slap” transients.
    Crunch Punches – Punches layered with bone breaks and cracks .
    Dark punches – Punches with more of a deep, organic, thump-y sound.
    Rips and tears – Fatality-like, gory tears.
    Simple Punches – Organic sounding, deep punches that consist of only few layers (compared to other punches).
    Punches “Xtra” – Punches without Arm movement/scuffle/whoosh – just a hit that you can layer with your own woos/scuffle
    Skull crashes – Gory, slimy skull crashes and splits
    Swooshes, whooshes snd scuffles.

    SOURCE CONSTRUCTION-KIT 192/24 (600 SFX)

    Scuffles, arm movements and whooshes – Cotton, denim and nylon.
    Snaps – Leak snaps
    Flesh drops – Dropped oranges
    Cotton transients – Cotton hoodie hit with a soft drum mallet
    Real chest punches – Closed fist
    Meaty punches – Beefy, organic punches (punching beef steaks).
    Lettuce punches and smacks – Deep, wet lettuce punches plus exaggerated transient sounds.
    Real chest smacks – Open fist
    Meat movement – gory, slimy, beef movements.
    Meat Slaps – Beef steaks dropped on a tile floor with pronounced transients
    Small crack – cracking eggshells
    Bell pepper rips – Tearing, ripping apart Bell peppers for crunchy snaps and cracks
    Whooshes and swooshes – Airy whooshes
    Fabric Movement – random, cotton cloth whooshes and multiple swishes.

    325 designed sound effects will get you started right away and save a lot of time when cutting fight scenes.
    600 high quality source recordings will allow you to design all kinds of punches, bone brakes and gore sound effects from scratch, exactly to your taste.

    All sound effects are highly tweakable. You can fine-tune them to your liking; pitch them up/down to remove/add weight whilst retaining details and clarity.

    Download includes:
    96-192KHZ 24BIT version (925 SFX/562MB)
    44.1KHZ 16BIT version for Unreal Engine (925 SFX/264MB)
    192KHZ 24BIT BONUS source recordings (58 SFX/30MB)
    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Sennheiser MKH8040 + Sennheiser MKH8060
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: RX, Pro Tools, Brufri, DMGAudio, Sonnox, Fabfilter

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576709999
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Electro-Mechanics Toolkit 2 Play Track 860+ sounds included $67 $53.60

    The “Electro-Mechanics ToolKit 2” Sound Effects Library features a wide range of versatile electro-mechanic motors, engines, tools and toys.
    All waiting to be cut up, layered, edited and mangled with FX to become spaceship engines, robot movements, sci fi doors, weapon mechanics.
    This library is not meant to be a comprehensive tools library but rather a composite toolkit to bring futuristic electro-mechanic machines, devices, weapons, vehicles, … sonically to life.
    All cleaned and edited for direct use in your upcoming projects.

    All sounds have embedded BWF Metadata.

    Categories:

    Air Compressor • Angle Grinder • Band Saw • Belt Sander • Bowling Alley Machinery • Buffing Machine • Turning Lathe • Buzz Saw • Chop Saw • Doors & Shutters • Electric Drill • Electric Screwdriver • Electric Wood Plane • Evacuator • Film Projector • Fine Blanking Tool • Fretsaw • Grinding Lathe • Hand Blender & Mixer • Hoist Industrial • Industrial Vacuum Cleaner • Jigsaw • Mechanic Toys • Metal Saw • Milling Machine • Stationary Drill • Strimmer • Toy Helicopter

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576623599
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles RC Cars | Reely Core Buggy Play Track 170+ sounds included $35 $28

    Looking for sounds of a remote controlled car? Here you go: This sound effects library features 170 sound effects of the Reely Core RC Car. You get several on-board and external driving sounds, pass-bys, close-up steering mechanics and idling mixtures, and of course some crashes. All sounds are edited and cleaned for direct use in your upcoming sound design projects. All sounds contain detailed BWF Metadata.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576623599
  • Foley Crockery & Surfaces (Empty) Play Track 64 sounds included $20 $17

    A library containing a number of objects being picked up, put down and moved around on a number of surfaces including wood, glass and metal.

    15 %
    OFF
    Ends 1576623599
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.