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:  
  • This is a unique bicycle library that captures this characteristic bike in clean, quiet, nicely performed true exterior rides. Including multiple perspectives, speeds and actions. From fast passbys on asphalt to slow onboard recordings and smooth stops.

    The UglyBike is a typical old bicycle that’s working fine, but needs some TLC. It is a bicycle that’s just average, a little rattle a gentle scrape, a bike that everyone has had but got traded in for a newer one. A story of unrequited love.. :)

    Speeds and actions:
    Three speeds. Departures from slow, medium to fast getaways. Arrivals from slow stops with gently squeaking handbrakes to heavy stuttering skids.

    Five perspectives:
    1. Onboard Front: captures the whirring tire and surface sound.
    2. Onboard Pedal: nice overall combination of pedaling, crank creaks, chain rattle, tire and surface sounds.
    3. Onboard Rear: close up sound of the rear axle, with chain, sprocket and switching of gear.
    4. Tracking shot: mono recording of the passby, keeping the bike in focus while passing by.
    5. Static XY shot: stereo recording of the passby that emphasizes speed.

    Overview of perspectives and mic placement:

    Onboard recordings are 2-3 minutes long depending on speed. Higher speeds > shorter duration.
    All 3 onboard mics are edited in sync with one another to make layering easy.
    All Passbys, Arrivals and Departures move from Left to Right.

    Metadata & Markers:
    Because we know how important metadata is for your sound libraries we have created a consistent and intuitive description method. This allows you to find the sound you need easily, whether you work in a database like Soundminer/Basehead/PT Workspace work, or a Exporer/Finder window.

    However, we are aware that some people have different needs for different purposes, so we’ve created a Metadata Reference Guide that explains the structure. And because we’ve automated the metadata proces, you can be confident that a ‘find & replace’ command will always replace all instances.

    Download our Metadata Reference Guide

    Download complete metadata PDF

    If you have any questions about this, contact us!

    Additionally, we added Markers to some wave files, so specific sound events are easy to spot in Soundminer or other database apps.

    Need more?
    The UglyBike library is part of the complete ‘City Bicycles’ library package available at www.frickandtraa.com. It consists of all 4 bicycles and includes additional surfaces and extras ranging from one-off  bicycle passes captured in the city and bounces and rattles. The extra bicycles surfaces and additional effects are also available seperately here on ‘a Sound Effect’. If you’ve bought a single library and want to upgrade to the full package, contact us for a reduced price on the complete City Bicycles library. Every part of City Bicycles that you paid for will get you an extra reduction on the full package.

    Video Thumbnail
    Responses:

    344 AUDIO:City Bicycles has a plethora of content, for a great price. The perfect balance between a great concept, great presentation and outstanding execution, lands them an almost perfect score of 4.9..

    The Audio Spotlight: City Bicycles is worth getting if you are in need of great sounding and well edited bicycle sounds.

    Watch a video created by Zdravko Djordjevic.

    Video Thumbnail

     

    Add to cart
  • Environments Museums & Galleries Play Track 272 sounds included, 800 mins total $100 $80

    This library features a wide range of recordings from various museums and galleries, each differentiated by the nuances of their size and space. All recordings feature pristine echos, walla and movement. The library includes stereo & 5.0 recordings from:

    • War Museums
    • History Museums
    • State Museums
    • Science Museums
    • Art Galleries
    • Photography Galleries
    • State Galleries

    All sounds were recorded using a stereo pair of DPA 4060s, DPA 5100, Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6 and Sound Devices 788T.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1556056800
    Add to cart
  • The American M5 High Speed Tractor includes over 20 gigabytes of recordings of a WWII US military vehicle with a Continental 6572 six-cylinder petrol engine with 207 horsepower. 188 sound fx document a full suite of performances from M5, also known as versions M5A1, M5A2, M5A3 and M5A4.

    The performances include starting, idling, departing, arriving, and passing by from 6 exterior perspectives at slow, medium, and fast speeds. 10 additional perspectives feature motor, interior, exhaust, tracks, and other locations that capture idles, driving, and steady RPMs from onboard the tractor.

    Includes extensive Soundminer metadata.

    Add to cart
  • Cars Volvo 242 DL 1975 Play Track 364 sounds included $249

    The Volvo 242 sound fx collection includes 271 sounds in 13.51 gigabytes of audio. The 242 is a DL 1975 version of the car, also known as models 240, 244, and 245. It features 25 takes of recordings from the Swedish vehicle and its 4-cylinder B20 A, 82 horsepower engine.

    16 synchronized perspectives capture both onboard and exterior performances. Eight onboard perspectives (12 channels, including 4 in AMBEO) recorded driving at steady RPMs, with gearshifts, and ramps using microphones mounted in the engine, interior, and exhaust. Eight other exterior perspectives (18 channels) showcase driving at fast, medium, and slow speeds approaching, departing, and passing by. There are also steadies in neutral, blips, and performed effects, as well as an Altiverb impulse response.

    All clips have 18 fields of Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata.

    Add to cart
  • Sports Downhill Skiing Play Track 37 sounds included, 13 minutes 08 seconds mins total $35 $30

    Get ready to hit the slopes with this wintery gem of a sound library!

    Taken from many trips up and down the slopes in Upstate New York, this library gives you in your face gliding swishes, crunching carves, turns, stops, passbys from the left and right, falls, jumps, landings, poles poking and scraping the snow, chairlift machine sounds, bindings, and more!

    If you need authentic skiing sounds this library has you covered. Whether you need to create loops and insert carves in a video game or film project or if you need lengthy recordings of full trips from the top of the mountain to the bottom this library will give you it all. Enjoy Downhill Skiing!

    14 %
    OFF
    Ends 1555970400
    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:
 
 
  • Foley Squeaks & Creaks (MS) Play Track 313 sounds included, 19 minutes 29 seconds mins total $25 $22

    The squeakiest of the squeaks and the creakiest of the creaks! Halloween came early!

    In this library you will find everything from deep, wrenching creaks to high piercing squeaks; quiet door knobs and twisting, turning plastics. Many of these sounds were recorded in a turn of the century old victorian home with decades of wear and tear to give the most authentic, creepy sounds that your heart desires.

    Here you'll find drippy, squeaky faucets, loose boards on stairwells, creaking door hinges, squealing old door coils, metal scraping on metal, rending wood and plastic, quiet, airy floorboards, bone crushing twist and turns, gripping leather and rubber and so much more! With 300+ sounds you're sure to maximize your imagination's spookiest or maybe just that perfect sound design element you needed!

    The sounds were recorded in stereo at 96 kHz 24 bit. The equipment used was a Sony PCM-M10 and the files were processed, edited, and mastered in Reaper.

    12 %
    OFF
    Ends 1555970400
    Add to cart
  • User Interface (UI) War UI Play Track 1764 sounds included, 63 MB mins total $79 $59

    The War UI Sound Effects Library enables you to quickly outfit your characters with pre-built military classes, gear, inventory, notifications, unlocks and alerts. From natural and organic SFX to highly designed and processed epic war style electronic and digital SFX, all assembled into a value-packed comprehensive collection of 1750+ sounds and effects.

    Library highlights:

    • Military User Interface Sound Effects Library
    • Class specific sounds like engineer, infantry, medic, recon, tech/communications specialist
    • War-themed drum cues, cadences, and alerts
    • Gear, equipment, health, painkillers, loot crates, and unlocks
    • Game starts, navigations, menu transitions, latches, turns, buttons
    • Designed notifications, killstreaks, skill, upgrades,
    • Achievements, unlocks, purchases,
    • Backpacks, Metals, Liquid, Matches, Hinges
    25 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Ancient Game Play Track 1508 sounds included, 72 mins total
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $79

    Get ready for adventure: Ancient Game gets you 1500+ designed and source MMO / game-ready audio assets. Step into a world of fantasy with Ancient Game – The Legendary RPG Adventure Game Sound Library by Epic Stock Media! Includes Magic, Warfare, Gore, Treasures, Mechanisms, Monsters, Loop-able ambiences and more! All in 96k / 24 Bit for optimum clarity and supernatural sound.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • This is a unique bicycle library that captures this characteristic bike in clean, quiet, nicely performed true exterior rides. Including multiple perspectives, speeds and actions. From fast passbys on asphalt to slow onboard recordings and smooth stops.

    The UglyBike is a typical old bicycle that’s working fine, but needs some TLC. It is a bicycle that’s just average, a little rattle a gentle scrape, a bike that everyone has had but got traded in for a newer one. A story of unrequited love.. :)

    Speeds and actions:
    Three speeds. Departures from slow, medium to fast getaways. Arrivals from slow stops with gently squeaking handbrakes to heavy stuttering skids.

    Five perspectives:
    1. Onboard Front: captures the whirring tire and surface sound.
    2. Onboard Pedal: nice overall combination of pedaling, crank creaks, chain rattle, tire and surface sounds.
    3. Onboard Rear: close up sound of the rear axle, with chain, sprocket and switching of gear.
    4. Tracking shot: mono recording of the passby, keeping the bike in focus while passing by.
    5. Static XY shot: stereo recording of the passby that emphasizes speed.

    Overview of perspectives and mic placement:

    Onboard recordings are 2-3 minutes long depending on speed. Higher speeds > shorter duration.
    All 3 onboard mics are edited in sync with one another to make layering easy.
    All Passbys, Arrivals and Departures move from Left to Right.

    Metadata & Markers:
    Because we know how important metadata is for your sound libraries we have created a consistent and intuitive description method. This allows you to find the sound you need easily, whether you work in a database like Soundminer/Basehead/PT Workspace work, or a Exporer/Finder window.

    However, we are aware that some people have different needs for different purposes, so we’ve created a Metadata Reference Guide that explains the structure. And because we’ve automated the metadata proces, you can be confident that a ‘find & replace’ command will always replace all instances.

    Download our Metadata Reference Guide

    Download complete metadata PDF

    If you have any questions about this, contact us!

    Additionally, we added Markers to some wave files, so specific sound events are easy to spot in Soundminer or other database apps.

    Need more?
    The UglyBike library is part of the complete ‘City Bicycles’ library package available at www.frickandtraa.com. It consists of all 4 bicycles and includes additional surfaces and extras ranging from one-off  bicycle passes captured in the city and bounces and rattles. The extra bicycles surfaces and additional effects are also available seperately here on ‘a Sound Effect’. If you’ve bought a single library and want to upgrade to the full package, contact us for a reduced price on the complete City Bicycles library. Every part of City Bicycles that you paid for will get you an extra reduction on the full package.

    Video Thumbnail
    Responses:

    344 AUDIO:City Bicycles has a plethora of content, for a great price. The perfect balance between a great concept, great presentation and outstanding execution, lands them an almost perfect score of 4.9..

    The Audio Spotlight: City Bicycles is worth getting if you are in need of great sounding and well edited bicycle sounds.

    Watch a video created by Zdravko Djordjevic.

    Video Thumbnail

     

  • Environments Museums & Galleries Play Track 272 sounds included, 800 mins total $100 $80

    This library features a wide range of recordings from various museums and galleries, each differentiated by the nuances of their size and space. All recordings feature pristine echos, walla and movement. The library includes stereo & 5.0 recordings from:

    • War Museums
    • History Museums
    • State Museums
    • Science Museums
    • Art Galleries
    • Photography Galleries
    • State Galleries

    All sounds were recorded using a stereo pair of DPA 4060s, DPA 5100, Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6 and Sound Devices 788T.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1556056800
  • The American M5 High Speed Tractor includes over 20 gigabytes of recordings of a WWII US military vehicle with a Continental 6572 six-cylinder petrol engine with 207 horsepower. 188 sound fx document a full suite of performances from M5, also known as versions M5A1, M5A2, M5A3 and M5A4.

    The performances include starting, idling, departing, arriving, and passing by from 6 exterior perspectives at slow, medium, and fast speeds. 10 additional perspectives feature motor, interior, exhaust, tracks, and other locations that capture idles, driving, and steady RPMs from onboard the tractor.

    Includes extensive Soundminer metadata.

  • Cars Volvo 242 DL 1975 Play Track 364 sounds included $249

    The Volvo 242 sound fx collection includes 271 sounds in 13.51 gigabytes of audio. The 242 is a DL 1975 version of the car, also known as models 240, 244, and 245. It features 25 takes of recordings from the Swedish vehicle and its 4-cylinder B20 A, 82 horsepower engine.

    16 synchronized perspectives capture both onboard and exterior performances. Eight onboard perspectives (12 channels, including 4 in AMBEO) recorded driving at steady RPMs, with gearshifts, and ramps using microphones mounted in the engine, interior, and exhaust. Eight other exterior perspectives (18 channels) showcase driving at fast, medium, and slow speeds approaching, departing, and passing by. There are also steadies in neutral, blips, and performed effects, as well as an Altiverb impulse response.

    All clips have 18 fields of Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata.

  • Sports Downhill Skiing Play Track 37 sounds included, 13 minutes 08 seconds mins total $35 $30

    Get ready to hit the slopes with this wintery gem of a sound library!

    Taken from many trips up and down the slopes in Upstate New York, this library gives you in your face gliding swishes, crunching carves, turns, stops, passbys from the left and right, falls, jumps, landings, poles poking and scraping the snow, chairlift machine sounds, bindings, and more!

    If you need authentic skiing sounds this library has you covered. Whether you need to create loops and insert carves in a video game or film project or if you need lengthy recordings of full trips from the top of the mountain to the bottom this library will give you it all. Enjoy Downhill Skiing!

    14 %
    OFF
    Ends 1555970400
 
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 *