The Importance of Sound Design: The Sound of Silence

by on Aug.21, 2011, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Rotting Flesh Radio | Go to Original Post

by: RFR Casket Crew Maestro Macbre

The Haunt Sound Design

The Haunt Sound Design

It’s Mid August, for the most part any of you building haunts are in the final planning or building stages.  Most frequently left till the end is putting in speakers and picking your sounds. Where to start!  What to use!  We don’t have budget! I present to you a brief guide to sound design!

Over the next few weeks, I will touch on the different techniques and examples. Lesson one: The sound of silence The truth is you can make a very stagnant room creepy, just by adding sound.

Not every room can have a scare, sometimes the a mediocre scare can be amplified by building suspense.  How do you do this?

Silence.  Not really silence, but the sound of silence.  Bare with me for a second!  Think of your favorite scary movie, what usually proceeds a scare?  Ambient noise.  This sound not only feels an empty space, but creates an uneasiness.  If you watch Ghost Hunters  as much as I do, they explain the effect of electromagnetic fields. Not only that, but it covers up your actor shifting around in a crawl space.  You can fight sound with sound using it correctly.  You can also achieve this with little resources (check out the last Ask the Maestro!)

In Layman’s terms, electromagnetic fields are produced by the presence of electrical objects emitting radiation.  This causes living creatures to feel the field causing paranoia and sometimes nausea.  This is often attributed to that “being followed/watched” feeling. What does this mean for you?  Using the right sound at the right time, will get your patrons paranoid before they even enter a room!  This is why a sound designer is important! (Shameless plug!)

Sound emits  electromagnetic radiation, but it can also effect people with the tempo, frequency and volume. The tempo of a piece can actually change the pace of a person’s heartbeat.

Think of how a song makes you feel.  Slow songs are often associated with love and fast with movement.  The human heart beats at 120 beats per minute, if you take a song that beats at about 140, you can raise a persons heart rate, making their breathing shallow and creating discomfort. Frequencies act the same way.  Sub bass tones relax you making you disarmed, where are high pitched can make you tense and uptight.

So what does this mean to you Mr. or Ms. Haunt designer?

Depending on how you use your sound, you can prepare someone for a scare.    Think about a transition room in your haunt.  What is the overall theme?  Is it a Carnival?  Industrial?  Outside?  Inside?

These are all factors. Once you do this, look for a great loopable track utilizing the atmosphere you are looking for.  Use droning pads with bass to cover up natural ambient noises.  The best will usually create a space using sound, to shrink or expand an area.  Use sounds that cover the spectrum, occasional mid range sounds matched with a low ambient noise.

Also think If there’s a specific character, maybe a clown for example.  Add elements of circus music, maybe some horn honks or giggling.  The use of pan can also add an air of uncertainty too.  If there is a large beast animatronic or ghost, use deep breathing or chilling sounds.  It’s ok to tip your hand as long as the scare can beat it.

Prolonged loud screeches and shrills, should be avoided.  You will not only drive your actors nuts, but you will also aggravate your customers.  The last thing you want is a high strung customer walking into a room with an actor about to aggravate them more.  But the intermittent loud shrill can catch a patron off guard.

The key is a lot of natural sound with unnatural effects.  All of this can be achieved without using music.  Leave the music outside.  Music should be used to create the atmosphere outside, while making the wait more pleasant and anticipated.  Great ambient music can be used inside.  For example a music box, piano, or other natural music sources.  But I will touch more on music in a later post.

The truth is, sound is a huge part to a haunt, and you need to treat it on the same level as set decorating, costumes and make-up.  You can mix your own or have someone mix them for you (Check out some free samples here).  Programs like Audacity make it free and easy!

In the next installment: Tempo and Frequency, Installing speakers, perfect scare sounds!

Until next time! Sit Back, Relax, and Rot Away!


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