Building Soundscapes, Telling Stories: A Sound Designer’s Odyssey

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Each week, to encourage creativity, fun, and free thinking, every Flikli artist/designer is allowed 10% of his or her time to work on self-generated, self-guided projects or larger internal team projects. These projects are presented either internally or to the public upon completion. This blog post is part of an ongoing series of posts highlighting our Flikli 10% Time Projects. — The Editors

Flikli is built on a foundation of creativity. Every project we do is fueled by not just one, but many creative processes coming together to produce the work we do. The sound design processes behind each of our productions are no exception to such creativity.

Another key ingredient in the Flikli foundation is freedom – to create, play with, and work on projects that excite us, even beyond our commercial portfolio.

In this short blog post, I will explain the creative processes I undertook to produce this delightful little Audio Story, during Flikli’s 10% Time here in the office!

(For the impatient or story-hungry: you can find the audio story at the very end of the article!)

ENTER THE SOUND DESIGNER…

Like most humans with eyes and ears, I have always admired and enjoyed in the art of storytelling. Everything about it fascinates me, and in addition to books and film, I regularly listen to audiobooks and podcasts in my free time.

So when given the opportunity to work on a person project in the office, I immediately knew what I wanted to produce: an audio story. A high-quality short story to be told via voice over, SFX and music. Simple.

First step? Write a story!

The Story-writing Process

Oh, hold on… I’ve never done that before. Suddenly this is not looking so “simple” – arguably the most important part of the project, and I am wildly under-qualified to carry it out.

After much brainstorming, espresso-drinking, and sensationally lame creative writing attempts, I realize that I have two things:

[1] A rough little journal entry I made when on a European backpacking trip during my spritely, dreamy-eyed teenage years. And, more importantly…

[2] Our Creative Director, who just so happens to be very experienced in the world of creative writing.

Problem solved! One highly efficient collaboration later and I am in possession of a respectable (heavily edited) short story. Approximate running time: 5 minutes.

The Voice Over Process

I get to work on the next step immediately. Setting up a Rhodes NT1a microphone wired through Pro Tools in the office sound booth, I manage to nail down the voice over in 10 minutes [yes, that’s my voice folks], which is then edited and mastered accordingly. This leaves me 8 hours to get really creative with SFX and music. Awesome!

The SFX Process

With the story being much more “atmospheric/contemplative” than “action-packed”, the SFX were straight forward to lay out. I wanted minimal, non-invasive sounds to float in and out only when appropriate to complimenting the experience of the story. So I spent an hour or so sifting through our in-house SFX library and select sounds that best fit this criteria.

The Music Creation Process

I compose and produce music independently, and so this part of the project appealed to me most. There’s no medium that can produce a more immediate emotional response than that of music, so to evoke specific emotions at certain points in the story as intended – music would be the key.

My music creation process is natural and simple. It just requires Buddha-like patience. I had enough humility and self-belief to know when I had (and had not!) found an idea that would express the right emotion for a part of the story I wished to amplify. In the end, this part of the project took a blissfully indulgent 6 hours to complete.

So, creation of three differing musical compositions later and I had all the ingredients in front of me: VO, SFX and Music. Time to mix them all together!

This is another part of sound design I get a lot of joy from. With experience in the field, and having created, sourced and recorded all the audio myself (kind of like a chef sourcing out his own ingredients, creating a new dish, then simply seasoning it ‘to taste’) – mixing and mastering the audio was straight forward and good fun.

The End Result

And there you have it – 16 hours of personal creativity resulting in a high-quality short audio story.

This project was nothing but fun. The total creative freedom allowed me to explore the unfamiliar world of audio storytelling and successfully produce an audio story of my own – with a little help from my fellow Fliklians – Thanks guys!

If you would like to hear the story – great! It’s right here…

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