Monday, July 11, 2011

Part 1: The whisper from the past

Big update this Friday, I will be doing this blog in two separate posts dealing with two{three] different heroes:

Let us start with the biggest one; the new hero: Revenant.

To design a sound from the ground up for anything, requires some research into various aspects, dealing with what you are designing for.

Art helps tremendously to facilitate how the character needs to sound\feel like. (For whatever medium you are doing sound for.)
But only so, if you are building a sound palette until what you are doing the sound for is actually modelled, animated and put into the game\film.
Then, the sound designing actually starts, you will discard more than you will use and you will most likely go back and record some additional sounds when you start noticing details and such within the animations and effects.

But understanding what you are designing sound for is as equal important, not by just art alone, but by lore or history. So what are Revenants, well there is always what wikipedia can tell one, but you can also find some mythology about them through books. Sometimes, they mention small but important details, like for instance that revenants were sometimes heard to be whispering on their approach.

So let us talk about revenants movement sounds first:

I added a whispering sound that can only be heard if the hero is close, this is just me speaking nonsense into the microphone and then just layer many voices atop of each other and doing some slight ghostly effects:

Of course in the game, it is triggered by the proximity of the hero to the center of the camera i.e. The closer the hero is to the center of the screen, the more you will hear the sound.

Next, is to give the floating animation a sound. So a loop-able synth sound ended up being used for the floating:

The idea is to give a slightly empty, slow and creepy feel to the revenant.

Once we got the thematics down, we can start on the actual movement animations.
In the art, he is a metal effigy encased in flame, so I imagined a sort of flame movement to his body as well as some ghostly metal creaks.
Boom library released recently a really cool sound library that helped out getting these sounds down.

Here are his movements that became his "footsteps."

They are in the same volume range and distance range(how far away the sound can be heard) as the footsteps of creeps and other heroes.
They were also added to be triggered later, rather at the very beginning of the animation,
so you don't get the spam of sound when you are trying to get past a unit (A problem with Soulstealers sound.)

The very next is the metallic sound of his body in movement:

Like the previous sound, this sound is not triggered until very late in his walk_cycle.
It is also more limited in distance range and volume.

They all blend in together quite well.

Next up is his attacks:

For his attacks, I wanted something that reflected an evil and disturbing persona.
Considering his attacks throw a skull, I thought it be funny to give it a laughter as it flew through the air, maybe not loud and overly disturbing, but something you could occationally make out during the attacks:

The whoosh is a spatula being swung in the air creating a strange fluttering sound that sounds kinda "boney."

For the impact sounds of the attacks, I ended up using choir sounds that's been pitched down heavily, combined that with soulstealer's impact sounds and a bass drum impact sound:

Up next we have his abilities:

Ability 1:
The first one is a buff that causes magic damage and slow movements.
I wanted there to be several cast sounds making a spamful ability slightly thematic but refreshing as you cast them, though they had to be closely related so that enemy heroes (and allies for that sake,) could use the sound as a reminder when the ability had been cast.
I recorded fire sounds, wind whooshes, car whooshes and so on, and then added them all together.
I then added one of soundtoys awesome plugins and compressed it until I had a sound that became distinctive and interesting enough to work for that character.
Of course I wanted to add in some personality from the revenant into the sound. And I recorded some laughter (yet again..) and added them at the end.

Next on the list, was the impact you, and that of your fellow allies would make. It had to sound magical, and carry an "umph" to it.

Not too much though as there are three heroes at the same time being able to cast the same ability. It would be too loud and too annoying if three heroes at the same time attacked with a volume on 100%.

I recorded a ball of fire hitting a wooden panel (Fire extinguisher and all at the ready <.<)
It made the perfect hit sound that I needed and then I had to build a magic body for the impact.
I recorded cymbals and wind chimes and then added large amount of reverb and stretching the sound out, without ruining the details in it.

Once those sounds were done, it was all about the slow-state sound that needed to be looping.
For that, it needed to be very very distinct, so that when it was on you or anyone, you would know by the sound alone.

I recorded lots of whispers, found some library sounds of whisper (to mix it up a tad,) and at the end, adding a synth sound that gave the entire sound a much needed presence and structure.

Here are the sounds, in case you are wondering why some are mono and some stereo, that is because impacts and loops are suppose to be directional sounds, while the casting sounds are suppose to be situational sounds i.e. "oh he just cast it!" - A) it is harder to pin point the location of the hero through the sound alone, while B) it still gives you a cue that is has been it sounds better >.>:

Ability 2:

The next one is an AOE spell that surrounds the hero, allies and enemies and does magic damage.
I looked at the effects, trying to figure out how it suppose to sound like.
It looks like bunch of ghosts(wraiths) attacking the player - it is cast on, so taking that to mind, it was all about recording ghostly sounds for this one.

I recorded water whooshes, wind whooshes, reused some of the previous choir sounds and various monster sounds, made from the sound of birds and tigers.
(Also reused previous whisper sounds.)
Put them all together and then compressed and effected them through a ton of plugins.
I also gave it a lower body of bass to make it have a bigger presence.
The sound is actually quite low in volume within the game but cast on many, the sound increases in volume. This is to prevent the ability which is slightly spammy, to become ear bleeding:

Ability 3:
This ability turns the revenant and two of his allies (at a later stage,) invisible.
It is quite simple really. The animation is of him spinning his stick around and then turning invisible.
I recorded a tube that electricians(real ones not goblin ones,) use to put wires and such in. It makes a wonderful whistle sound and stands out quite well.
The next sound was the "turning invisible" - sound, and that is a combination of my voice going "shhhh" and the sound of a cymbal being spun around and pitched down.
In the game, it plays very low, unless there's 3 characters being turned invisible:


And thus we come to the voice for Revenant.
It went through maaaany iterations, many that I sadly didn't care to keep (they were quite bad)
I ended up with one that I quite liked, a voice that is a mix between two voices.
Since I ended up doing the voice over, I had the chance to do two voices for it.
I wanted a sad voice, a scary one and some ghostly effects to them. So I recorded one version that was very close to flint beastwood and one that was more mournful. I did some effects on them and started to put them together
The voices needed to be understandable at times and other times more haunting and creepy.

Before I came to the finished results, here are some of the ones that I kept, that didn't come out very well:

The last ones in the previous record, became useful in the final design of the voice:

The first and last one of these, are the taunts.

The lines were written by Mspudding, Diva and myself.


The last sounds that ended up being developed were the sound of Revenant's death.
With the thematics down and voice, the demise of our already dead hero,("logic...") was ready to be made.
I wanted there to be a sound of the metal creaking (think Sauron being destroyed in the beginning of the fellowship film - kind of sound,) followed by an explosion. I also wanted there to be a voice echoing through his death.

I recorded the twisting of some metallic alloys outside of my home(much to my neighbor's delight.)
I then compressed and stretched it until I was happy with it. Then I added some echo and reverb that changed pitch as it travelled through the sound.
I had a good thunder sound I recorded from a massive thunderstorm weeks earlier and
I added that with a sound of fireworks, a gunshot and me slamming a hammer into a shed made of metal. It was compressed, effected and reverbed to crazy amounts.

A top of it all, I layered the sound of the skull's voice I had recorded earlier and the heroes voice:

And that's it!

His taunt animation by the way, is a golf swing. If you taunt someone, a golf club sound does play!

And check back later for Part 2!

1 comment:

  1. Wow this was really interesting to read. It shows just how much effort goes into making something sound right.

    Unfortunately it's one of those things that gets overlooked, but without it I'm sure people would notice.