Asbjoern Andersen


I love horror movies, so when I spotted Ryan Thompson’s award-winning short, Play Time, I decided to investigate a little further. It won the 1st price in the ‘Bloody Cuts – Who’s There Film Challenge’ – and it won the award for best sound as well. I got in touch with Ryan to hear more about how he created the sound – and you’ll find his exclusive insights below. But first, let’s have a look at the short and what the jury said about it:
 

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What the jury said:
Here’s what Bloody Cuts’ judge Phil Lee said about the winning sound:
“We have made our decision and we have both agreed on ‘Play Time’ as our Sound Award Winner. This film really stood out in its quality of execution and sonic decisions. Very well thought-out design, clean, great dynamics, married with the picture and story development perfectly and most of all, had the big scare factor!! Loved the TV static design with the disturbing screams, could have been really overwhelming and harsh in an annoying way but was shaped and mixed really well.”
 

Hi Ryan, please introduce yourself:

Hello, I am a young film maker who recently won the international ‘Bloody Cuts – Who’s There’ challenge with my short ‘Play Time’, which also won Best Sound. Being an independent film maker, I have to tackle each area of film making from pre to post production by myself; this allowed me to develop my sound design and music production skills.

Sound design is very important to me and I always try and give it 110% on every project I create. It is such a fundamental element that cannot be overlooked, so I am always trying to hone that skill and get better with each and every film I work on.
 

How did you come up with the idea for Play Time, and how early did you start thinking about the sound?

I was originally going down to Oxford (UK) to shoot with the actors involved for a different project, but the night before I left, I found out about the ‘Bloody Cuts – Who’s There’ competition. After they told me that they would like to be involved, I quickly wrote the concept.

I knew I wanted it to be paranormal as I hadn’t really attempted that genre before, and I wanted quite a bit of activity to go on so I knew that sound would be really important.

I think I always have an idea of how I want the sound even in pre-production, and in the past I often make the music before I actually film anything. I didn’t have time to do that with Play Time but my original ideas for the sound were very close to the final result.

My original ideas for the sound were very close to the final result.

 

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How did you approach the sound for the Play Time, and how did you go about creating it?

The sound design is one of my favourite stages in post production, and it helps to take a lot of time on it, as it can make or break any film. Once ‘Play Time’ was cut together I began working on the sound. I wanted the tone to reflect the scene and for it to slowly build, so I knew I wanted subtle ambience and some faint pulsing bass/drums.

I built up the initial sounds around the beats in the film as there are sections of almost silence, and others that are overwhelming and chaotic. I wanted to try and achieve a sense of organised chaos; as the paranormal activity in the room increases, I wanted the sounds to overlap, build up, attack each other etc.

I wanted to try and achieve a sense of organised chaos

In specific cases like the record player music, I wanted them to be off key to purposely give an uneasy feeling, but I also didn’t want everything to clash and be inaudible.
For instance you can still hear the subtle trickles of blood on the painting of the hare, even though a crescendo of sounds carries on. So it was really about messing with it till it felt right and worked well with the visuals.
 

What were some of tools and libraries you used to create the sound?

All of the Foley – i.e. footsteps, bed creaks, door bangs etc -, I recorded later in my home with the Tascam DR-40, which I also used with the actress to dub her audio in. I have a lot of FX libraries and packs of both horror and cinematic sounds, so I always go through and listen to them and choose the right ones for the part. I recommend packs/sounds from primeloops and pond5, to name a few.

A lot of the music was from videocopilot’s Pro Scores, but the main drums in the short were pulled from a song I made a couple years ago which I then distorted and reversed to add an uneasy tension. And the songs on the record player were originals from me and the actress which again I reversed, pitched and distorted.
 

Any tips and ideas for other filmmakers out there when it comes to horror sound?

Sound is so important! As I said before it can make or break a film so really spend a lot of time and effort on tweaking it and getting it right. It needs to flow and tell the story by itself, the visuals should just be seen as a backup.

The effect music has on someone is very powerful and can instil fear or generate inspiration. Creating the right piece to reflect the story being told is critical and boosts the film as a whole so much more so cannot be overlooked.

You will know when it is done, or when something doesn’t fit in right, so it is all about listening and working on it until it works seamlessly with the visuals.
 

You’re working on a new project which relies heavily on sound design as well. Can you share a few details on what that’s about?

I guess the best way to describe this new short is ‘neo-noir’. It is very different from anything I have done before, and for this the sound design will need to really carry the energy of the film. It has no on-screen dialogue, so the audio itself will be used to reflect the scene and it’s pulses. The audio itself will be surreal/dream-like with subtle elements of reality dispersed throughout; it will definitely be an interesting project to work on. This will be released soon for the ‘My Rode Reel – International film competition’.

 

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Thanks to Ryan Thompson’s for giving this behind-the-scenes peek at the sound for his award-winning horror short! You can find out more about him and his work at the VFXProductions page.

 
 
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    The audios provided in this library are high quality recordings with Zoom H2n recorder in propietary Spatial Audio mode, horizontal-only ambisonic alike mic layout stored in an AmbiX format. W, X, Y channels of AmbiX provide immersive audio through the horizontal plane and they allow to decode the recording into Mono, Stereo, Binaural, Quad, 5.0, 5.1, 7.1 and more layouts with dedicated Ambisonic processors. Z channel is empty.

    The library comes with 5.0 and Stereo version of the AmbiX original recordings.

  • The following is a 2016 Bell 407 GX Helicopter single license
    sound effects library with Metadata (1.8gb compressed .zip file, 2.5gb Uncompressed).

    All 17 wave files at about 85 minutes long are in 24 Bit, 96 kHz. The Onboard 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 ready to use stereo mix versions of the Onboard recordings. External recordings are in mono, stereo, and Ambisonic Format B wave files.

    Onboard Settings:

    Channel 1 Front Left
    Channel 2 Front Right
    Channel 3 Rear Left
    Channel 4 Rear Right

    Notes: If you need specific shots of this helicopter, Watson is available for hire to re-record this or similar sounding aircrafts.

    Special thanks to James, his crew, and to Chad Dion (photographer)!

    Definitions
    External = Sounds recorded from outside of the aircraft (flybys, etc)
    OnBoard = Recording perspectives on and in the aircraft

  • Recording of a 1972 Porsche 911 ST vintage sports car with a 2.5 liter 6 cylinder boxer dual ignition engine and race car tuning 280 hp.


    The German 1972 Porsche 911 ST sound fx collection includes 468 sound files in 45.46 gigabytes of audio. It features the sound of a vintage sports car with a 2.5 liter 6 cylinder boxer dual ignition engine and race car tuning 280 hp.

    The bundle gathers 20 synchronized takes from both onboard and exterior perspective. The 18 onboard takes feature microphones positioned in the interior (including an Ambisonic perspective), engine, and at the exhaust while driving with gearshifts, ramps, and steady RPMs. The 7 exterior perspectives showcase departing, arriving, passing by, and reversing at slow, medium, and fast speeds. Also included are idles, performed effects of doors, gearshifts, pedals, and more, and impulse responses of the cabin interior.

    The package downloads with Pro Tools and Reaper mixing sessions, custom mixes of the onboard microphones, professional embedded metadata, and translation import files in 7 languages.

  • Recording of a 1978 Japanese Yamaha ET 340 snowmobile with a 338cc, 2 stroke, 2 cylinder engine.


    The 1978 Japanese Yamaha ET 340 snowmobile sound collection gathers 174 clips in 8.47 gigabytes of field recordings. It showcases the sound of a 338cc, 2 stroke, 2 cylinder engine in 23 channels of audio.

    The sound pack includes 9 synchronized takes of onboard and exterior driving. The 11 onboard perspectives features recordings from the engine, exhaust, and front shield while the skimobile drives with steady RPMs and ramps. The 5 exterior perspectives arrange microphones at three positions to capture driving at slow and fast speeds on straightaways and around corners. The package also includes custom mixes of the onboard perspectives as wells as performed effects of switches, the throttle, and more.

    Each sound is embedded with with seven languages of Soundminer, iXML, BWAV and Mac OS Finder metadata.

  • “The Shoe Collection: Soft Hardwood – Men’s Boat Shoe“ by Periscope Post & Audio, provides 22 high quality footsteps on soft hardwood floors with the boat shoe.  The audio files are recorded at 24bit, 192k with mono and stereo recordings.  The Sennheiser MKH-60 was used for the mono files with a slightly more distant mic placement than the stereo files, which were recorded with the Sennheiser MKH8050 and the Sennheiser MKH-30 near the shoe.  From different walking speeds, to jogging, sprinting, jumping, hard stops, scuffs, and more!  There are several performances with each file to fit the right action you need.  That’s a whopping 454 footsteps between the mono and stereo files!

 
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