This week we had a meeting with a sound designer to help create atmosphere in our film. Initially we found it difficult to decide if we wanted any sounds at all, as the film already felt very complete with the music from the opera. We were afraid that any ambient sounds may not fit with the music and may even potentially distract from the music.
In order for the timing of our animation to synchronise with the peaks and troughs of the music we delayed the start of the music for a second or two after our animation had begun. The only issue with this is that it gave the initial impression to the audience that the audio was not working. To rectify this we decided to insert some ambient sounds of wind at the very beginning to give a sense of the winter environment, before the music starts.
The sound designer added this for us and then faded the sound so that it could just be heard under the music from the opera. This really worked and encouraged us to be slightly more adventurous and try a few more sounds to put softly under the music. There is a scene where the main character, a kingfisher, dives under the water and retrieves a pearl. For this scene we added a few ambient sounds of water splashing and I was amazed by how much this enhanced the scene.
The sounds that we inserted made the characters feel like they were in a real environment, suddenly the film had a lot more weight and texture to it. We only added a few sounds that we felt were most crucial, for example the wind at the beginning to set the scene, a heavier gust of wind when Marcello is battling against the elements, water sounds when he retrieves the pearl and wings flapping when Musetta deserts him at the very end.
It is interesting to note that we only inserted four ambient sounds all at the most crucial moments in our film; the beginning, the obstacle in his journey (difficult weather), the moment he finds the perfect gift, and the final verdict ( Musetta rejecting him once again). This was not a deliberate choice to only pick these moments to add sound, these decisions were made purely on where we felt ambient sound would work most appropriately.
I was really surprised by how a few sounds placed at the appropriate time really elevated the whole feeling of the piece. The characters feel much more grounded in a world and the whole film feels more real, and therefore we as an audience feel more engaged and invested in the story.
The sound designer used Adobe Audition software to put this together as he said it was a much more intuitive programme, and one that would be easy for us to use to change the timings if we needed. He also mentioned that this software worked very well with Premiere.
This was the first time I have worked with a sound designer and I found it to be really beneficial. The session we had really opened my eyes to how important ambient sounds are for an animation, and demonstrated just how much sound can elevate a story.