Venturing into dark space – Scary sound design sonic experience

In week 2, we watched the movie Event Horizon, there were given a task to design a scary, 2-3min, sonic experience that represented some key aesthetics within the movie. This was to improve our skills as sound designers.

Basically it needed to sound sci-fi, low tech, organic and synthesized, dynamic, discrete panning and predictable, and unrealistic to fit within the event horizon aesthetic design.

From what I knew and researched about scary sound design is that it needs to relate to people (like voices, whispers, dogs, cats, babies crying) and it needs to build suspense over a long distance of time. These sounds, however, need to be altered to fit within the “uncanny valley” which is the weird, eerie, scary, part of the human brain, where things that look real, but aren’t quiet 100% real, seem very scary – like a baby with black eyes.

A few of the sounds I incorporated was recorded sounds my dog made when he gets all excited and my own weird noises, made by inhaling air and locking my throat in a particular shape (similar to the way they made the sound for clickers in “the last of us”). These were relatable to humans, but i altered them by pitch shifting them down with NI Battery. I used a sampler to do the pitch shift as the algorhythms are better than a standard pitch shift plugin or cubase’s vari-audio. This gave the dog and myself a real scary, demonic sounding tone which can be heard throughout the track.

I also used NI Massive to create the eerie music and made use of the pitch shift wheel on my keyboard to bend the notes out of tune. Some more effects were created in Massive too, like the engine ambience sound and some of the banging sounds.

I used different reverb settings to create distance and lots of eq on basically every track to make them stand apart from each other. There was also an eq, compressor and brickwall limiter on the master bus to bring out the entire mix.

Automated panning was used on a few elements to add dynamics and movement within the track as it progresses to the climax at the end.

All in all this was an extremely fun project, I wish I had more time on it as I would have liked to expand on some sounds and add more elements. Anyway here it is, hope you enjoy.

Cheers

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