April 18, 2023
Blog by Thomas Lack
Introducing Wild Noises, a library that will take you on a new sonic adventure. Wild Noises is a collection of sounds manipulated into effects, drones, playable instruments, and more. You can create ambient soundscapes, cinematic textures, rhythmic patterns, and expressive melodies with the sounds of trains, plains, and automobiles. Wild Noises is a spiritual sequel to Beautiful Noises, which was made of beautiful recordings from around the world.
Wild noises, on the other hand, is created from more unpredictable sources. A processed jet engine, an audience gasping as a drag race goes wrong, angry hornets buzzing as their hive is destroyed, and so much more. Soundpaint can turn these sounds into just about anything. You can mix and match different layers of sounds, apply effects and filters, and modulate various parameters to create your own wild noises. Wild Noises is inspiring in its unpredictability; you won’t know what sounds will jump at you until you jump in yourself! Whether you are looking for inspiration, relaxation, or experimentation, Wild Noises will unleash your creativity and take you on a quest to a new realm of sound.
To me, one of the coolest things about Soundpaint is the emphasis on sound design. Beautiful Noises was among the very first Soundpaint instruments, and it was a great showcase of the transformative power of the engine. I am not always in the mood to get into the fine details and make a new sound; there can be any number of restrictions that make using presets more convenient. But when time permits and creativity flows, there’s something meditative about getting lost in sounds and letting noise wash over you.
Sound design is all about transforming one sound into something different, and it can be fascinating to hear experienced sound designers like Ben Burtt discuss their creative process. Some sound effects are so iconic and memorable that they become part of the film's legacy and cultural impact. Some sound designers focus more on manipulating recorded sounds to achieve unique results. When these sound design techniques are applied to the creation of musical instruments, it can be a thrilling experience that expands our perception of what an instrument can be. Here are just a few examples of iconic sound effects in film:
Ben Burtt created the lightsaber sound by combining the hum of an old projector motor and the buzz of a TV set. He then used a microphone to record the sound while moving it around to create the Doppler effect of the lightsaber swinging. You can hear more about this from the man himself in this video.
The T-Rex roar in Jurassic Park was a mix of several animal sounds, including an elephant, a tiger, and an alligator. Sound designer Gary Rydstrom also used the sound of a whale’s blow hole to add some breaths and snorts to the roar. He then processed the sounds with various filters and effects to make them more powerful and menacing.
The bullet time whoosh in The Matrix was used to emphasize the slow-motion effect of bullet time, where the camera moves around the characters while they dodge bullets (which is an interesting visual effect to look up, if you’re interested). Sound designer Dane Davis created this sound by recording his own voice making a whoosh sound and then slowing it down and adding some reverb and distortion. He also layered some other sounds, such as wind and metal scraping, to make it more complex and dynamic.
The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect that has been used in hundreds of films since the 1950s, usually when a character falls from a great height or is shot or thrown. The scream was named after a character named Wilhelm who used it in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River.
Designing and/or exploring sound effects is broad, and musical sound design is an extension of that. One of the keys to successful instrument creation in Soundpaint is to approach the process with an open mind and a willingness to experiment. The best sounds can come from happy accidents or unexpected combinations of settings. By exploring different combinations of parameters and effects, you can discover new sonic landscapes and push the boundaries of what is possible. And the more you experiment, the easier it will be to hone in on specific sounds you want to create. If you are new to this kind of thing, try setting aside a block of time and ask yourself, “what sound(s) can I make?” As you gain a better understanding of effects and controls and parameters, you will know exactly where to go to make the sound the way you want.
If you have been watching our walkthrough videos, you may have seen Chimy break down a program and explain the purpose and effect of every alteration and addition. He has also gone through the process of making a program from start to finish. If it’s something you are interested in, I definitely recommend checking out this portion of the Dunescape video, or this portion of the Sub Hits walkthrough. They offer a good contrast of making a new program from something that starts more music-esque and from something that starts more effect-esque. In the Wild Noises video, Troels and Chimy move through programs pretty quickly, but they explain what inspired them in the sounds and what they had to change to make something new.
Of course, you can design sound effects in Soundpaint too. Similar effects and modifications can be done in just about any DAW, but there is something special about the result being playalbe - it adds a layer of depth and variety that is hard to reproduce elsewhere. And don’t forget that you can import your own sounds into Soundpaint too. If you want to try your hand at making a fun sound, record something simple on your phone or grab a royalty-free sound and throw it in the Soundpaint designer. Slap on some effects and see what you can make! If you have any sound design tips for novices or veterans, we’d love to hear them over on the Soundpaint Discord!