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Know your rights


copyrightWhether you’re streaming online content, creating a podcast, a video or video game, the chances are you’ll be considering what kind of sounds and music will accompany your production. Whatever the case may be, it’s essential that you ensure have the rights to the assets and tracks that you use. If you’re starting out, this can be tough because there’s not always a lot of money to spend.
There are lots of alternatives to spending money, however, although you still have to ensure that you abide by the terms of any music that you use.

Bad vibrations

One of my favourite pieces of sound design recently is the vibrating sound of the Reverse-Flash from the CW’s TV show. The effect, which accompanies his appearance, is an ominous vibration sound. Every time we see the Reverse-Flash stand still, his body and features are a blur as he vibrates to help mask his identity. With his red, glowing eyes and distorted voice, Reverse-Flash is an imposing figure. The accompanying sound becomes an evocative signifier and is used to indicate his presence. It is also used in his theme and even when we don’t directly see him, the sound, worked into his theme exudes menace. You can hear an example of this in the following clip, as Barry an company discover Wells’s secret room for the first time:

Oblivion drone sounds terrifying

A few weeks ago I watched the Tom Cruise film, Oblivion. While it has plenty of flaws, it’s an interesting film, with a very striking visual style. The most impressive feature, however, is the sound design, particularly the sounds of the drones. Science fiction films often seem to sound very generic in their representations of technology, but while the drones resemble Zeroids from Terrahawks (whether by accident or design), they still feel unique. This look is enhanced by the noises they emanate, which include a range of electronic sounds as well as less obvious, animal-like honking noises. When we first encounter the drones, their shape and these sounds engender sympathy: these dutiful machines seem to have personality and life, enhanced by the organic sounds and when we see one damaged, there is a pitiful quality to them, like a large, injured animal. Later on, however, as we see the drones become implacable, merciless killers, these same sounds, combined with their red ‘eye’ establish the drones as a powerful, terrifying threat: each honk, bleep and rumble the prelude to efficient, destructive violence: Take a listen:

Also worthy of note is the music, by M83, which recalls the more introspective moments of the Inception score. You can hear more about Oblivion’s sound and music in this video from the SoundWorks Collection:

SoundWorks Collection – The Sound and Music of Oblivion from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.