Asbjoern Andersen


How do you record and design great winter sounds effects? And how do you make them shine in your project, once you’ve recorded them?

That was the challenge Max Lachmann and the team at Pole Position Production faced when they were brought in to create the sound for SNOW, an open-world, free-to-play winter sports game from indie studio Poppermost Productions.

Here is Max with tips, tricks and insights on how they recorded, tweaked and implemented the brilliant winter sound effects you hear in SNOW. But first, a short introductory video:

 

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Max Lachmann on making the sound for SNOW:


In SNOW players can ride down massive mountains exploring the vast environment or spend time in the terrain parks practicing rail and air tricks – and the sound had to be just right.

When Alexander Bergendahl, Poppermost’s CEO initially asked me if I was interested in helping out with the audio bits, I was really excited! Having done mostly vehicles before in my company Pole Position Production, this was a nice challenge, and a possibility for us to get into a wider range of games. At this point there was no budget, but I still decided to put some efforts into it to see what I could do to help Poppermost out. Alexander promised that when there was a budget I would get paid later on. Ever heard that before? Did it ever happen? Well, Alexander sure stood up to his promise!
 

What’s out there?

So, my first thing to do was to start looking through the libraries I had at hand, realising there was literally nothing I could use from them. No clean skiing sounds, no clean ski resort ambiences without loud voices, really nothing at all.
To get at least something to start to work with, I sent my girlfriend, who is a decent skier unlike myself, out the local slopes with my Olympus LS-5. I got that in the game, along with some foley I did, but the initial feedback from the Poppermost guys was clear. It sounded too icey.

The initial feedback from the Poppermost guys was clear. It sounded too icey. But this was actually a really good start

But this was actually a really good start. It made me realise how serious they are about what they are doing, and they know what they are talking about. So during my spare time, I kept supplying them with a few sounds now and then, created from what I had.

Eventually, Alexander called me and asked if we could have a meeting. It turned out he had finally got some financing for the project, and they wanted to do some proper sound recording. So we had a budget set up that covered something like eight days of recording, and about a month of sound design and implementation. This is quite something for a small indie developer, to show that level of dedication for the project’s audio, and I am very proud that I got to do it for them. At this time I also brought in my colleagues Bernard Löhr and Mats Lundgren from Pole to help out.

 

Another day at the office

Another day at the office

The art of indoor skiing

Together with Alexander, we made a long list of sounds that were needed. It covered everything from player foley to surface sounds, rails of different materials, ski lifts of different kinds, ambiences, voice over, UI and much more. We eventually evaluated and updated this list, since it was created in such an early phase of the development.

With this list in mind, we planned the first recording sessions. First out was a foley session in the studio. Bernard, who is a very experienced skier, brought his skiing equipment and we rigged him with microphones. A couple of DPA4061s on his helmet, a pair of Schoeps CMC6 from the sides, and probably a few other mics, all recorded in Pro Tools.

We created over a dozen sounds during the session including clothes rustling, ski poles hitting each other, ski boots creaking, bindings clicking and much more. The sounds from the clothes was the most useful from this session, all the other sounds turned out sounding out of context, and we realised we had to record them outdoors to give them the proper feel.

Spin-off: A unique winter sound effects library
 
  • Environments Snow and Ice Textures Play Track 548+ sounds included, 295 mins total $199

    A must-have collection for winter sounds, this library consists of many years' recordings of snow and ice, skiing, textures, ambiences, foley and so on. It contains lots of skiing, jumping, rails, freezing cold winds, ski resort ambiences, lifts, walking in snow and on ice, texture details such as snow spray, tires driving, skidding and spinning on ice and snow, drilling in ice and much more.

The guys at Pole Position Production compiled a huge amount of winter sound effects – from this project and others – to create an outstanding winter SFX library. It features lots of snow and ice + unique skiing and other winter sports sounds.
 

Rigged from head to toe

The next session was at a ski resort up north. Mats and I started out doing some more foley stuff on the night of the arrival, tumbling in snow, jumping through bushes, banging skis into various things, planting poles in the snow and much more. We used our Neumann RSM191 shotgun and also our two Schoeps, and recorded onto our Sound Devices 702. The next day we started our work with the surface and skiing sounds. Since neither of us had done anything similar before, besides my initial testing with a handheld recording device, it was all about trial and error.

So we rigged Bernard from head to toe. Two DPA4061s on the helmet, a Crown PZM on the top of each ski, two more DPAs on the boots, and a Neumann RSM191 taped to his backpack, like we do with motorcycles. He also carried a Zaxcom Fusion eight track recorder in the backpack.

So finally, we had Bernard going on his own with just the RSM, and a crowd of people staring at him

Listening back to the first runs we quickly realised this was not the route to go. So our next try was with Mats going beside Bernard with the Neumann RSM191. This gave a much more natural and smooth sounding result.
So finally, we had Bernard going on his own with just the RSM, and a of crowd people staring at him. While Mats and Bernard were in the slopes, I walked around with our Schoeps doing ambience recordings, recording lifts, and skiers passing by in the slopes.
 

A helping hand from Kläppen

After going back to the studio and evaluating the result of the first skiing session, the second session was more thoroughly planned. Poppermost got us set up at the ski resort Kläppen in Sälen, Sweden. Besides nice slopes, they also have an amazing terrain park with all kinds of rails and jumps. The Kläppen staff was extremely nice and helpful. They shut down music for us when recording, they took us up the mountains on snowmobiles after the lifts closed, to record wind and ambiences without disturbances. They let us into the main lift engine building and even started and stopped it for us despite all the people on it.

Poppermost had also arranged with a student, Måns, from a skiing high school nearby, and he and his friends performed all kinds of jumps and tricks for us. So besides some more regular skiing performed by Bernard, again with a handheld RSM191 and a Sound Devices 702, we also got all kinds of amazing stuff. We mounted DPA4061s on the rails, and followed the skiers with both the RSM191, a Telinga dish with a Sennheiser MKH8020 and a Sennheiser MKH8060 and recorded this on our Sound Devices 788.
We worked our way through regular jumps and rails of different materials, and ended the day with recording a bunch of rough stops.

One of the things that amazed me the most was the natural swooshes you could hear when the skiers flew over your head

One of the things that amazed me the most was the natural swooshes you could hear when the skiers flew over your head. All the swooshes in the film about the audio recordings for SNOW are the real deal.

From this trip we got back with a big bulk of useful sounds, such as the sound you get when you fly off a jump and all the rails, not to mention the winds and lift sounds. The noise from the lifts are a bit of a problem when you record in a ski resort, since the sharp tone they make can be heard all over. On the positive side, it’s very constant and most of it can be removed with a hard set eq.
 


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

 

Latest releases:  
  • Whooshes Tiny Transitions 2 Play Track 320-670 sounds included From: $29.20 From: $21.90

    “Tiny Transitions 2” is the successor to the very popular Tiny Transitions sound effects library.

    If you already knew the first library you know what to expect: even more, even better and more versatile to bring instant sonic support for all kinds of small animations, motion graphics, pass-bys, menues, projectiles and more.

    Re-load your ammo belt with not-so-intrusive production elements that come in very handy for any Sound Designer, All-In-One Film Editor or Web-, App- and Game-Developers.

    All the small motion elements that you need in your everyday work for games, apps, commercial, films or general motion designs.

    You get 350 ready to use designed sounds+ a composite selection of 320 cleaned and edited source soundsthat were used to design the Tiny Transitions. These sounds are mostly different props that are scraping or sliding on different surfaces and also some vocalized whoosh attempts.

    If you don't need the extra source sounds you can grab the “Designed Sounds only” pack.

    All source sounds were recorded with Sonosax SX-R4+ with a Sennheiser MKH8050+MKH30 M/S rig, a Sound Devices MixPre-6 with a MK8060+ATE208 M/S rig and a Sony PCM-D100. All sounds come with embedded Metadata.

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  • Cars Subaru Crosstrek SUV Play Track 90+ sounds included, 35 mins total $99

    This sound effects library delivers the sounds of a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek SUV. Metadata is included, with over 35 minutes of recording time split into 90 ready to use wave files. There are onboard, external, and foley sounds, all in high quality 24 bit resolution, 96khz sample rate. This is the right library when you need stock sounds of a common Subaru vehicle.

    Onboard multi-track recordings are in 4 separate mono wave files. Drag & drop or import each of the files into your audio editing software, then align them for creative mixing. There are also stereo mix versions of the OnBoard recordings. The External recordings are in stereo wave files. The combined recorded driving time is more than 35 minutes long.

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    Comprehensive Soundminer's metadata. Over 20 different, old, traditional, wooden drawers.

    LOCATION: Spain, Costa Blanca. Traditional Spanish hacienda before renovation.
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    Gear used: Zoom F8, DPA 4066, Sanken Cos11, Sennheiser 416, Sony D100.

    Sounds included

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Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Getting the ground right

At this point we realised that the actual ground material sounds would be a bit of a problem. We have had pretty much the same weather conditions on both our trips, which was about freezing degrees or slightly less, wind and even rain. So our chances of capturing all of the different materials needed, powder, ice, piste and wind-packed snow were not very good.

Most of what we had recorded so far had a good but a somewhat similar texture. So getting these sounds right took a bit of sound design from Mats, and some iteration after feedback from Poppermost. Mats had to take on different approaches depending on what sound he was going for. We had plenty of source material riding over soft snow and piste. Many times it was all about finding parts of the recordings where there were long enough sequences to be able to create a loopable sample. He used equalisation a lot for controlling the high frequencies, but there wasn’t that much fixing really.

He took these rather short fragments and put them randomly so that they would overlap each other, creating the effect of skis going over packed ice

For icy surfaces it was a little trickier since there were no actual recordings of that. However, from my very early attempts I had recorded some ice-surfaces and Mats was able to use that. What he did was that he took these rather short fragments and put them randomly so that they would overlap each other, creating the effect of skis going over packed ice.
He did also blend in some white noise into it to even out the sound a little bit. This way of overlapping short bits of audio is also how he created the ski-turning sounds.

The most difficult sound to create was that of turning on powder because we had no recording of really soft snow at all, especially not spraying soft snow. So we ended up using some kind of soft plastic foam that sounded like spraying snow when it expanded after being squeezed.
 

Time for adjustments

The equalizer was the main tool for controlling the interrelation between different surfaces so that they would be perceived as different from each other. For softer surfaces we applied darker eq; for harder surfaces brighter. It took some trial and error to get that right. To control the levels Mats used the Precision Limiter from UAD. He also used Waves Linear Broadband Eq to take out some ugly high frequencies when necessary.

Finally, on top of this I did some additional recordings on a family skiing vacation. I focused on some more skiing, this time with a handheld Sennheiser MKH8060, and some ambiences with a pair of Sennheiser MKH8040s into a Sound Devices 702.

It didn’t take long before the rumours about the weird guy with fluffy things went around the resort again…

Most of the ambiences we had gotten before had people skiing in them, which would sound awkward in the game where the player is usually the only person in sight, so I needed more ambiences but without other people in them.
I also recorded some lift pylons, to get the sound you hear as the lifts pass them. It didn’t take long before the rumours about the weird guy with fluffy things went around the resort again…
 

Getting the sounds in the game

Once we started getting sounds into the game, Poppermost came up with a bunch of references on how they wanted it to sound. So for the player experience we started with speed wind, clothes rustling in the wind and the actual surface sounds, going straight, turning and stopping.

Using Fmod we set up parameters for player speed, wind speed, turning speed and more. We added ambience winds, poles placed in the ground, jump and landing sounds and so on.

We made sure the different camera angles captured the differences in distances. We added a small jump sound that plays as you leave the edge of the jump, a sound that was clearly prominent in our recordings. For the railing part, we have one sound playing when landing on the rail, and then I created looping sounds using The Mangler, a great granular synthesis tool. This is still work in progress, with plenty of work remaining such as adding detail sound effects like snow spray, swooshes, clothes moving sounds among other things.

We would never have been able to reach the level of authenticity in the game without Poppermost’s determination and dedication, spending the money on recording the real thing. Nothing beats original source material when it comes to sound design, and once you have the bulk recorded, your bought libraries are a great resource to add that little extra to the final design.

It was also a good lesson to learn that from all the eight tracks we recorded in our first attempts, with a mindset similar to our vehicle recordings, it turned out to be too detailed and that a simple handheld shotgun microphone was the best way to create a soundscape similar to what a skier experiences.

 

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About Max Lachmann
Max Lachmann is a field recordist and sound designer from Stockholm, Sweden. He is co-founder of audio outsourcing company Pole Position Production, famous for vehicle recordings, which has provided several titles such as War Thunder, Need For Speed and Just Cause 2 with recordings, sound design and music.

Check out the Pole Position Production website, and meet the team on Twitter here.

 


 
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NEED OUTSTANDING SOUND EFFECTS?
 
A Sound Effect features the world’s largest collection of independent sound effects
– a few wintry highlights
:

 
  • Sports Bob Skeleton Play Track 82 sounds included, 24 mins total $29

    Bob Skeleton library delivers exciting action sounds of  Two Men Bob and Skeleton heroes that go down the track with more than 100 kilometers/hour.

    The sounds of this library were taken from 9 spots along a track in Altenberg in the south of Germany. Each take is sorted and meta-tagged by recording spot and with this content you are able to assemble a complete run from start to finish or even to extend it by easily combining start sceneries, energetic passes in different speeds and noisy brakings down in the valley.

    Furthermore Bob Skeleton´s content is an inspiring resource for sound mangling experiments and artificial foley design.

  • Winter Cross Country Skiing Play Track 76+ sounds included, 31 mins total $37 $33

    Two planks and two sticks, a simple yet effective way of transportation on snow. This release has various tracks, trails and off-trail skiing covered. Fast passbys, slow trekking, speeding down hill, falling down hill, climbing steep inclines, skidding stops and point of view skiing.

    Icey cold fast swishing skiis, stomping through deep snow or leisurely gliding through a beautiful winter landscape.

    Also includes some unique listening angles, single stomps & slides, and a couple of track preparation machines.

    Techniques: Stereo ORTF – Equipment used: Sennheiser MKH8040ST, RME UC(preamp) and Sony PCM D50(recorder).

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  • Ice Designed Ice Play Track 48+ sounds included, 10 mins total $15

    Designed Ice features creatively designed field recordings to create both exciting ice sound effects and evolving textures, that combine the natural sounds of ice with otherworldly and experimental digital post-processing.

    Designed Ice highlights:

    48 24bit / 96kHz WAV files / Meta-tagged (Soundminer)
    21 Elements
    17 Evolutions
    10 Source Recordings

  • Ice Elements: Ice Play Track 1500 sounds included, 86 mins total $50

    Elements: Ice is a collection of ice sounds recorded and edited over the 2015/2016 winter by George Vlad. The library is made up of more than 1500 individual ice sounds including cracks, creaks, hits, impacts, smashes, drags, stomps, splashes and water under ice ambience. The sounds have been recorded over more than 4 months in Romania and Scotland at temperatures ranging between -25C/-13F and 5C/41F.

    The library's most obvious use is as Foley elements since it covers a wide variety of ice thicknesses and performances. As is the case with other libraries in the Elements series, these sounds can also be used for other purposes such as gore sweeteners, glass or wood cracks, bone breaks etc. Additionally, all files are recorded and mastered at 24/96 quality which makes them excellent sound design elements ripe for serious processing.

    Elements: Ice at a glance:

    • 89 .wav files ranging from 3 seconds to 8 minutes long; more than 1500 sounds in total
    • recorded and presented as 24 bit/96 kHz mono files
    • 1 hour and 26 minutes total length
    • 1.59 GB uncompressed size – 1.09 GB zip archive
    • recorded on Sound Devices 633 with Sennheiser MKH-8040 microphones and Sony PCM D100 with on-board mics and JrF hydrophones
    • comprehensive metadata compatible with Basehead and Soundminer

  • Winter Footsteps One Play Track 1800+ sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $20

    If you're after high quality footsteps sounds on unique surfaces, this library is for you: ‘Footsteps One’ is the first library of the series aimed at providing exciting and unique footstep sounds for your next project. All the sounds were recorded in quiet remote locations in Northern Finland.

    Surfaces included:

    Forest Plain • Frozen Stairs • Grass • Gravel • Pine Needle Ground • Snow Deep • Snow Packed • Snow Scrapes • Wood Scrap

    Each surface comes with walk, scuff and stomp sounds with a lot of variations. Also included is bonus material like frozen stairs walk and snowscrapes recorded at various lengths.

    You get the sounds in two formats: 96 KHz 24 bit and in 44.1 KHz 16 bit, for more convenient ways of utilizing the sounds in games and other media.

    Don’t forget to check out the ‘Footsteps Bundle’ which gives you both of the libraries with a special bundle discount price!

  • Environments Footsteps Snow Play Track 45 sounds included, 25 mins total $54

    A footstep library built from long walks in cold and snowy conditions. Recorded in a remote, deserted Swedish forest, miles away from the nearest road.

    Different types of snow and boots were recorded as well as different paces:

    • Crusty
    • Thin/hard packed
    • Deep
    • Frozen stairs and porches
    • Stomps/scuffs
    • Sneakers
    • Leather boots
    • Kamiks

    Each track is easy to edit into multiple single footsteps for sweetening your tracks with real snow.

  • Destruction & Impact frostbite Play Track 843 sounds included, 49+ mins total $28 $14

    In the winter of 2013-2014, both the Northeast and the Northwest were slammed with snow, ice, wind, and blizzards. The SkewSound team braved the frigid cold and recorded what we could: footsteps, compression, breaking ice, body falls, and much more.

    Our content was obtained during storms and their aftermath in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and Salem, MA. The frostbite SFX library contains some great impact sweeteners and sounds unique to winter temperatures. You won’t be disappointed!

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  • Foley Frozen Footsteps Play Track 2400 sounds included $49

    Prepare for shivers! Frozen Footsteps is a huge library of winter footstep & foley sounds recorded on 8 expressive and cold surfaces in real -20 °C (and below) temperatures.

    Containing over 2400 sounds in 81 files, Frozen Footsteps foley sfx library is created for game and film sound design. If your game needs winter footstep sounds, or you are missing some authentic source material to take your studio foley tracks to the next level, this is the library for you.

    All surfaces were recorded in real movement with multiple walking and running velocities. Frozen Footsteps library includes also real jumping and landings sounds. Jumping sounds are often missing from other foley libraries, but are extremely useful for creating character movement sounds for games. This package gets you covered.

    7 surfaces were recorded during two freezing winter nights in a quiet rural area in Finland. Everything from ground to trees was totally frozen and covered in frost. However, snow hadn’t fallen yet. This special moment allowed recording footsteps on unique surfaces that are usually under snowpack. To make the package complete, the frozen snow sounds were recorded later, with real crusty snow. In freezing temperatures, as well.

    All sounds were carefully edited in iZotope RX and Pro Tools 12 removing the background and clothing noise. This was quite a task, but it was worth it. This makes the sounds extremely clear, versatile, and easy to use.

    Library highlights:- 8 frozen surfaces
    – 2400+ sounds in 81 sound clips
    – Sneak, walk, run, jump, slide, scuffs, and more
    – 96 kHz, 24-bit stereo WAV files
    – 1.20 GB
    – Carefully edited & noise-free
    – Soundminer & BWAV metadata

  • Ice Ice Cold Play Track 98 sounds included, 05min 35sec mins total $34.90

    Need crunchy, creaking, crackling sounds of ice cubes? This library delivers 98 sounds of ice creaking, ice cubes clinking and squeaking, ice moving, melting ice, and many other really cold sound effects in 24bit / 96 kHz quality.

  • Environments Ice Skating Play Track 1000+ sounds included $39 $31

    'Ice Skating' is a very comprehensive library of 1000 audio files from the realm of ice skating.

    It encompasses a broad variety of sounds using different skating techniques and features many ice skating activities such as hockey games, figure skating, free skating and more.

    Most of the recordings have been made in an outdoor setting to reduce reverberations.

    Almost all of the sounds were recorded using a M/S technique with AKG C-414 and Rode Nt5, and Sound Devices mixPre.

    This library presents unique focused sounds that have been edited meticulously making them easier to integrate in any audiovisual project or interactive program.

    The rare distinctive quality of these recordings also allows them to be a base for
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    A couple of Ambiences are also included in the library. These are ORTF stereo recordings of outdoors/indoors skating.

    Like every other sound library from Articulated Sounds, the files are embedded with metadatas (Soundminer/iXML/XMP/BWAV/ID3).

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  • Ice Ice Tension Play Track 206 sounds included $54

    A collection of 206 ice tension, creaking, and breaking sounds, recorded in a dense pine tree forest in Sweden.

    Ice Tension includes:

    • Very long tension creaking sounds
    • Multiple breaking sounds
    • Ice impacts on ice
    • Ice impacts into ice water

  • Ice Icy Snow 2 HD Play Track 453 sounds included $35

    Icy Snow 2 HD is a followup to Icy Snow HD.  This collection contains even more icy snow cracks, impacts, scrapes, debris and footsteps.  The weather produced a foot of snow covered in a 1/2 inch of ice.  Pretty unique sounds!  And it comes in two formats: “Individual Clips” & “Consolidated Tracks”.

Explore The Full Collection
 

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