Asbjoern Andersen


The quality of game cinematics has gone up a lot in recent years, but once in a while, something comes along that just knocks it out of the park. The cinematic trailer for gaming giant Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch game is one of those things: It looks – and sounds – absolutely spectacular.

I was keen to find out more about the sound for the trailer, and was lucky to get the chance to talk with Paul Menichini, the supervising sound designer at Blizzard’s award-winning cinematics department.

Read on for the exclusive A Sound Effect story on how Paul and his team created the sound for this most-impressive cinematic trailer:

Haven’t seen the trailer yet? Check it out below:

Video Thumbnail

 

Hi Paul, please introduce yourself, the Overwatch project – and your role on it:

My name is Paul Menichini and I am the Supervising Sound Designer for Blizzard Entertainment’s cinematics department.

I’ve been doing sound design for Blizzard’s cinematics since Warcraft III: Frozen Throne back in 2002 as a subcontractor, and I came on-board as a Blizzard employee about seven years ago. It’s a privilege to work on the amazing pieces that Blizzard’s cinematic team creates. It’s very inspiring to create content for projects that are always cutting edge and visually stunning.

Supervising Sound Designer Paul Menichini

Supervising Sound Designer Paul Menichini

The cinematic sound team at Blizzard is very small, consisting of my producer Caroline Hernandez, who also contributes some of the sound design; Alex Ephraim, sound editor, engineer, and overall nice guy; and me. We also recently added a fourth member to our team, Isaac Hammons, who also assists in editing, mixing, etc. We have our own dub stage at Blizzard where we have mixed many past projects, but in the case of Overwatch we decided to mix at Skywalker Sound in Dolby ATMOS.

Our cinematic for Overwatch is a short story of two brothers, Brian and Timmy, who are visiting a museum dedicated to a colorful team of heroes called Overwatch, which had disbanded some time ago. As you’d expect, all hell breaks loose in the museum as Winston and Tracer, two “good guys” end up fighting Reaper and Widowmaker, two “bad guys.”

Starting at around the two-minute mark, the action kicks into overdrive and the number of sound effects- per-square inch gets pretty crazy.
 

How big was the sound team for this? And what was the workflow / creative process like?

In the past, for most of Blizzard’s pre-rendered cinematics, David Farmer would help out with the sound design. Dave and I both started at a place called EFX many years ago and he is a brilliant sound designer. When we were ready to begin working on Overwatch, Dave was busy in New Zealand on a tiny little film called The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, so I leaned on another colleague, Tim Nielsen, to help with some of the design and editorial.
Tim did an outstanding job and was a real asset to our team. We had many other projects going on at the same time and wouldn’t have gotten through them without his help. As scenes would get finished on the visual side, we would dig in. I worked with Tim much the same as I would with Dave. We would each have our own tasks to tackle and we would also cover some of the same things as well. Some of his sounds would end up sweetening my stuff and vice-versa. There were weekly reviews with the cinematic’s director, Jeff Chamberlain, and the process went fairly smoothly.

Foley duties were handled by Gregg Barbanell and Darin Mann. They always do a superb job. Juan Peralta and Gary Rizzo mixed the piece up at Skywalker. Juan and Gary are both also alumni of EFX (as is Gregg) but aside from that, their filmography speaks for itself. They each have a stellar array of movie credits; in fact Gary and Juan were the mixing team on Oblivion, a movie that I loved for both the sound and the mixing. Andrea Toyias is our VO director at Blizzard and was responsible for all the VO in the piece. Derek Duke was the main composer, along with Neal Acree, Chris Velasco, and Sam Cardon.
 

Sounds like a LOT of care went into the sound design work for the trailer – it sounds spectacular. Can you tell us a bit about how you did it?

Thank you! This cinematic was an enormous amount of fun to work on. It was such a departure from anything Blizzard has done in the past, and probably packed more action into a short space than anything Blizzard had done before.
As is usually the case at Blizzard on the big pre-rendered cinematics, they afforded me enough time to work on the design and iterate over the course of a couple of months, although we had many, many other projects going on at the same time. I worked closely with the director, Jeff Chamberlain, and as the picture became more complete so did the sound.

It was such a departure from anything Blizzard has done in the past, and probably packed more action into a short space than anything Blizzard had done before.

One of the perks of supervising is that I get to keep a lot of the fun stuff for myself to do. These included the grappling hook into the wall, Winston falling through the glass ceiling and making a huge impact as he lands on the ground, and the various guns including Reaper’s, Tracer’s, and Widowmaker’s, as well as Reaper’s Death Blossom ability.

For the guns we started with the in-game sounds and then heavily sweetened them or replaced them. The sound of Tracer’s Blink (her teleportation) was created by Scott Lawlor on the game team, and is a very cool effect. Alex Ephraim did the VO processing of Winston’s voice. I’m pretty sure it sounds exactly like an ape would sound like if one could actually talk. One of the elements in Reaper’s Death Blossom bullet-bys was a series of processed pig dopplers that Charles Deenen had created some time ago and graciously gave us to use.

We paid an extremely high level of attention to detail on the foley. From the sound of Winston’s suit movement—which took several attempts to get just right—to the extremely subtle and appropriate sound of the metal gauntlet at the end – to the squeaks of the two boys’ sneakers as well as Tracer’s feet — to the sound of Timmy’s hands on the glass case and the leather stretch of Tracer’s jacket during the quiet moments, it all contributed to a soundtrack that is totally believable and lots of fun to listen to.
 

Did you do a lot of custom recording for the project?

The only custom recording we did was on the foley stage. Most of that was synced foley, but we also recorded a lot of wild tracks to use as source in the cinematic, including things like bullet debris, impacts, Winston’s armor, etc.
 

The trailer’s available in Dolby Atmos. What was it like working with this format?

Atmos is SO MUCH FUN. We specifically cut the FX for this cinematic knowing that we would be mixing it in Atmos native, which we took advantage of in certain scenes such as right before Winston crashes through the glass ceiling. The camera POV is facing down from the ceiling and we hear the entire frame of the building rattle overhead. Also, when Widowmaker is swinging around from her grappling hook and firing her machine gun, the bullet impacts and ricos hit all around us depending on where she is aiming her gun. The same sort of thing happens with the Reaper character and his Death Blossom ability. He has a special ability where he can teleport/cloak into a location and start firing a crazy amount of gunshots at once—which necessitated Tim and I cutting hundreds of ricos, bullet hits, bullet bys, and debris in all directions all at once for quite a while.

The Reaper character, going about his daily business

The Reaper character, going about his daily business

In several scenes the camera would spin around the room and highlight different characters for a few seconds. This allowed us to really have fun placing their sounds and spinning them all around the room. There is a scene where Widowmaker is perched on a ledge with a sniper rifle, firing at Winston. Our POV has us looking at Winston while Widowmaker is firing from behind us. Normally, in 5.1, we would just put that behind us in the surrounds but in ATMOS you can hear that she is behind and above us. It was fun, nerdy little things like this moment that I loved about the Atmos mix.
Another benefit of Atmos is that, since you can be so specific with placement, it is easier to provide clarity between music, FX, and VO. We have some other pieces that we’ve mixed in Atmos as well, but the fun stuff comes into play when the camera POV happens to support (sometimes inadvertently) dramatic placement of sound.
 

What was the biggest challenge making the sound for the trailer?

Some of the biggest challenges weren’t necessarily the biggest sounds. Getting the sound of the bullets impacting Winston’s armor took a bit of trial and error and a bit of processing to get it to sound just like the sound of a bullet impacting into thick, heavy, bulletproof, stormtrooper-like plastic.

Some of the biggest challenges weren’t necessarily the biggest sounds.

Reaper’s Death Blossom ability, where he fires a ridiculous amount of shots with twin shotguns, took a little bit of playing around with to get the timing and rhythm right.
It was like trying to get the speed of a machine gun but with the randomness of manual gunfire. And Tim came up with the perfect sound for the frame of the building rattling over our heads.
 


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What’s your favorite part, soundwise?

There are a lot of moments in the piece that I really like because of the sound, but they’re not all necessarily because of any huge sound effects or sound build. One spot I love is where the action is just out-of-control and then all of a sudden it cuts to the security guard playing Hearthstone. To me that was a great moment because all the chaos came to a screeching halt, with only the sound of the music coming from his iPad, and you can see the wall of monitors behind him with all the action still going on silently. Then you get slammed with the sound when it picks right back up again. If you listen closely you can hear the squeak of the guard’s foot tapping along with the Hearthstone music.

I also really love the whole sequence from the point where the building shakes and you know something is about to happen up to where Tracer blinks up alongside Widowmaker. In those 20 seconds or so all hell breaks loose and that was a lot of fun to put together.
It was also a really cool contrast going from the almost church-like quiet of the museum into this absolute deluge of sounds, which also comes into play at the end when all the action ends and it’s just the two boys and Tracer talking.

In the case of the Overwatch cinematic it was such a cool opportunity to be able to highlight that story but also have moments of intense sound.

It seems that a lot of trailers and cinematics start out by hitting you over the head and then spend the next few minutes trying to top that. Blizzard has always put the story first and honored that with the stunning visuals. In the case of the Overwatch cinematic it was such a cool opportunity to be able to highlight that story but also have moments of intense sound.
The scene where Reaper does his Death Blossom ability is a fun moment to watch as well. Hearing all the ricos, bullet impacts, bullet bys, and debris continue to go on around us during quieter moments like when Tracer is hunched down reassuring the two boys, make all the difference to me when wanting to be entertained by the sound.
 

Now that the trailer’s out, what’s the reception been like so far?

The reception has been overwhelming. Many fans conjectured that Pixar had been hired to work on the piece, but the fact is that Blizzard has a large and extremely talented cinematics team, and the work stands on its own. During BlizzCon 2014 in Anaheim, where the cinematic debuted, the wonderful people at Dolby built us a 600+ seat Dolby Atmos theater where we played this piece, a couple others, and also a teaser for the upcoming Warcraft movie.

We played those pieces every twenty-two minutes or so and I estimate we ushered somewhere between twelve- and seventeen-thousand people through the many showings across those two days. It was pretty thrilling to see and hear many of the responses.

A big thanks to Paul Menichini for sharing his insights on the making of the Overwatch cinematic trailer sound! Find out more about the game – and sign up for the beta – here.
 

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  • Environments Rare Winds Play Track 102 sounds included, 233 mins total $149 $74.50

    From all 4 earth’s corners, air streamlines the environment and shapes our stories. Discover the cinematic world of rare winds!


    This sound library is the ultimate achievement of a really ambitious project of recording winds from very remote places across the world.

    Included are authentic recordings from the Boreal region (North hemisphere: in Canada and Iceland), from the Austral region (South hemisphere: Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and the Last Hope province in Chile), on Islands in Mediterranean region (Thira in Greece), in the Sahara desert (Marocco), Isle-aux-Grues (Canadian winter), and more (see file list for more details)


    These were recorded either in urban settings, countryside, or complete wilderness.

    Included is a set of useful synthesized, tonal, and designed winds.

    The sounds are categorized into 3 folders: Designed, Indoor & Outdoor.

    WHAT’S INSIDE:

    • 102 stereo files
    • Highly focused and meticulously edited sounds
    • Ready to use Loop
    • Urban area and Wild area
    • Useful Designed & Synthesized Wind Sounds
    • Recordings from the Boreal region (North) in Iceland & Canada
    • Recordings from the Austral region (South) in Argentina & Chile
    • Recordings from Islands in Greece & Canada
    • Recordings from the desert in Marocco
    • Abandonned houses and shelters
    • Marina, lake, forest, car, flags, arctic, metal pole, prairie, street, mountain, grass, …
    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1574463599
    Add to cart
  • City Life Nature Ambients Bundle Play Track 263+ sounds included, 683 mins total $160 $80

    This bundle includes 4 different libraries.

    The Baltic Sea sound library is compilation of 56 WAV files recorded with Sound Devices 702, Rode NTG3, Sony PCM-M10, two Oktavas MK012 set in MS, XY and ORTF setup. All the sounds were recorded far away from the cities and roads. Since most of the sounds were recorded in late winter, there are no insects or birds in background. There are few files that includes the sound of birds, but I left them on purpose, because of the overall feel of the files. In this library you will find beautiful sound of waves crushing on the rocks and shore, recorded from different perspectives in different stereo configurations, during calm and windy days. In addition to those sounds, there’s foley like walking, running and swimming in the water.

    The Harbours Of Norway sound library features 25 files with ambients recorded in Myre, Sto and Nyksund, very small towns with direct access to the sea. Most of the sound effects were recorded at night, but since it’s a polar day time of the year, it was very pleasurable to walk and look for convenient places to set up my gear. Everything was recoded with ORTF setup built from two Sennheisers MKH 8040. Inside this library, you’ll find a lot of seagulls, waves crushing on the rocks and plants, windy ambients from the cliff, industrial sound from port in Myre with ship unloading the cargo, walla with steam engine boat and additional sounds from boat engine market and air cooling aggregates from food containers. Every file was recorded in 96kHz, edited (i removed any unintentional bumps, pops and unwanted sounds). I limited EQing to removing harsh frequencies, or enhancing a little bit the good sounding ones. At the end of the chain there is a small compression, for louder sounds.

    The Summer Ambients sound library contains 33 beautiful WAV files recorded with Sound Devices 702, Rode NTG3, two Oktavas MK012 in MS and stereo XY pattern. All sounds were gathered in different and beautiful places like forests, lakes, meadows or swamps. You can expect amazing ambients, textures, different birds, insects, forest during rain, calm and windy days. It’s a perfect library for designing background sounds. Everything was recorded in amazing Masuria in Poland.

    Summer ambients Update – library got 2x bigger and heavier than the original library. 59 additional files, 123 minutes of high quality audio recorded with Sennheiser MKH 8040 ORTF setup, Rode NTG3, Oktava MK012 XY setup plugged into SD702 and Sony PCM-10. It features ambients from the forests, ponds, swamps, meadows, lakes and suburbs recorded is very quiet locations, mostly just before the sunrise, during the day and before sunset far away from the cities.

    Water Flow sound library took me about six months to record, consumed about 15 thermoses of tea and 42 litres of gasoline to get to all locations. It offers 90 BWAV files recorded in different locations. Huge part of this library is based on the recording sessions on the rivers. Two completely different locations, recorded regularly for the last 5 months allowed me to create this unique sound library. Most of the recording sessions took place during winter just before the sun was rising to reduce the amount of unwanted sounds. Almost all recordings are completely clear and only few have birds in background, since it was my intention to record some location ambients with natural backgrounds.

    You can see the metadata and sound list below.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1574463599
    Add to cart
  • Cars Cars In Motion Play Track 561+ sounds included, 340 mins total $150 $75

    The Cars In Motion sound library gets you exterior sounds of cars driving at different speeds, slow/medium/fast/very fast pass-bys, reverse sounds, accelerations, braking sounds and a lot of additional files. You’ll find different engines, and cars with different character.

    From a small BMW 114i through to a powerful Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 with Magna Flow exhaust, up to a fast twin turbo BMW 640D F12. In addition to cars there are also files covering big machines like tractors and excavator.

    The library features 561 WAV files with total length of 340 minutes, recorded in 96kHz and 24 bits with a Sound Devices 702, two Sennheisers MKH 8040, Rode NTG3 and Sony PCM-M10.

    Here are the cars included in this library:

    • Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI – 73 files – 73 minutes
    • Audi A4 B8 2.0 TDI Avant – 11 files – 10 minutes
    • BMW 114i E87 – 20 files – 10 minutes
    • BMW 530D E60 – 55 files – 21 minutes
    • BMW F12 640D Gran Coupe – 87 files – 49 minutes
    • Excavator MF 860 – 30 files – 20 minutes
    • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 – 62 files – 51 minutes
    • Renault Kangoo 1.6 16V – 71 files – 32 minutes
    • Renault Master II 2.8 dTi – 21 files – 13 minutes
    • Renault Master F3500 dCi135 – 30 files – 12 minutes
    • Tractor Case II CX90 – 15 files – 10 minutes
    • Volkswagen Golf II – 26 files – 13 minutes
    • Other Cars – 60 files – 23 minutes

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Dirt & Asphalt Series: Motorbikes Bundle Play Track 365 sounds included, 305 mins total $116.66 $99.17

    Dirt & Asphalt Volume 1 is the first addition of vehicle and transportation recordings from Output Audio. This library contains a selection of recordings from 3 road bikes, with additional bonus content from other road motorbikes. The library also contains acceleration ramps for use in granular playback engines.

    Road bikes included:
    • Yamaha 450cc Thumper
    • Triumph 600cc Dual Fuel Injection
    • Aprillia RST 1000cc Futura
    • A selection of bonus pass-bys and externals from a range of high performance bikes

    Dirt & Asphalt Volume 2 is the second addition of vehicle and transportation recordings from Output Audio. This library contains a selection of recordings from two motocross events and two practise sessions, with additional bonus content provided as race atmospheres.

    Library highlights:

    AMCA Motocross Classes Included:
    MX1/MX2/Experts/Seniors Unlimited classes

    Engine Sizes Included:
    85cc/125cc/250cc/450cc engines

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  • User Interface (UI) Ui Two Play Track 377 sounds included $45 $30

    Ui Two is the sequel to our overwhelming popular Ui One collection, this collection contains 377 original sounds uniquely crafted for creating user interfaces, telemetry, gadgetry and more.

    Empty Sea’s Mark Camperell, carefully crafted these sounds using a variety of beepers, boopers and other sonic tools. A sample of which include synths, samplers, spectral editors and more. Each sound was recorded at 48k/24bit. Planned, processed, mangled and otherwise destroyed, every single tone was tweaked until it was something new, original, and exciting.

    As usual, we meticulously edited, mastered and embedded the files with metadata. This collection is priced to move, so don’t hesitate. If you’re tired of the your same old UI inspiration, Ui Two from The Library by Empty Sea is a great addition to your library.

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  • Cars Hyundai Kona Electric Car Play Track 428 sounds included, 98 mins total $100

    An electric car sound library with a range of FX from the Hyundai SUV, Kona.

    The library includes numerous driving FX on both gravel and asphalt including pass-bys, take offs, corners, approaches and skids.

    It also contains a large range of interior recordings from driving at highway speed all the way to buttons and switches.

    Multiple FX on each track – recorded in Sydney, Australia

  • Cars Car Interiors Play Track 430 sounds included, 14 mins total $69 $55

    car interiors library is a great supplement for all the car engine sounds that you already own. That way the action on the inside of the car is not stale at all. Dashboard buttons, seatbelts, automatic windows, switches, switching gears, brake, clutch and gas pedals, vents, turning signals. They’re all here!

    Got a whole bunch of roaring car engine sounds but then realised that you’re not equipped with all of the boring stuff like:

    car door handles, seatbelts, turn signal, air vents, buttons and switches, seats, storage compartments, horns, windows, pedals (gas, brake, clutch), handbrakes wend

    and all other Car Interior sound effects? Well then.. look no further! This is just the pack for you.
    160 wav files with over 400 single sounds in total. Car Interiors will spice up that car interior scene with real, crisp sounds, recorded from over 6 cars in total!

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  • Destruction & Impact Cinematic Strikes Play Track Up to 4140 sounds included From: $119 From: $95.20

    ENORMOUS SOUNDING PERCUSSIVE HITS

    CINEMATIC STRIKES joins the BOOM Library Cinematic Series – and it focuses on big sounding drums. A whole world of cinematic percussive sound design lies a few clicks away: From devastating cracks and stomps over crisp swells and rolls to epic ensemble hits – you will be sure to find and build just what you are looking for.

    With the ultimate flexibility of different microphone positions, single and ensemble hits, flams and swells using various drums and beaters, you couldn’t be better equipped to design huge blockbuster and trailer hits – or simply place ready-to-use DESIGNED sounds into your timeline and feel the earth shake.

    CINEMATIC STRIKES – CONSTRUCTION KIT:

    FLEXIBLE SOUND DESIGN TOOLKIT

    The Construction Kit offers you one of the most comprehensive drum hit packages ever recorded. Carefully planned to satisfy and complement every spot in the frequency range, you will never run out of low end booms, aggressive cracks, mid-range body impacts, reverberant tails and excellent sweeteners to top it off.

    PERSPECTIVE & RHYTHM

    Not only are you able to produce impressive sounding hits, but also transition into, out of and between peaks. Control the attack and release of each sound, using rolls, flams, double hits and other meticulously performed techniques. Three coherent microphone positions make spatial adjustments a breeze.


    Files: 618 • Sounds: 3708 • Size: 13 GB


    CINEMATIC STRIKES – DESIGNED:

    MAXIMUM PUNCH – AND THEN SOME

    CINEMATIC STRIKES – Designed is what you get when layering and processing Construction Kit sounds BOOM Library style.

    From rumbling low-end BOOMS, soft and natural sounding WHOOSH HITS to aggressive, frontal CRACKS and PUNCHES, the Designed library showcases what’s possible, while saving precious time and budget on a tight schedule.

    This package is particularly useful for filmmakers and trailer sound designers.


    Files: 108 • Sounds: 432 • Size: 1.4 GB

    CINEMATIC STRIKES BUNDLE:

    THE BUNDLE – The best of both worlds at a discounted price.
    The Bundle gives you the full sound design power as it contains both – the DESIGNED and the CONSTRUCTION KIT edition at a discounted price.


    Files: 726 • Sounds: 4140 • Size: 14.6 GB
    Included sounds – keywords:

    BASS DRUM, BOOM, BOX, CAJON, CONCERT TOM, CRACK, CRASH, DAIKO, DOUBLE HIT, ENSEMBLE, FLAM, FOOT, GONG, HARD BEATER, HIT, JAM BLOCK, KICK, KODO, LOG, MALLET, BIN, PUNCH, ROLL, SINGLE, SNARE, SOFT BEATER, SPLASH, STICKS, STOMP, SWEETENER, SWELL, TABLA, TAIKO, TAMBORA, THUNDER SHEET, TOM, WHIP, WHOOSH HIT, WOOD PERCUSSION, WOODBLOCK
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