Task 7. SFX.

Influences on my Sound Effects Task.

A major influence on my sound effects task is the sound designer Erik Aadahl, who is best known for his work on the Transformer movie franchise (2007. Transformers/2009. Transformers 2: Revenge of The Fallen. dir. M, Bay). Aadahl’s technique of serious multi-layering of similar effects to correspond to a visual sequence or on-screen action contribute to the fullness and quality of his sounds. Aadahl also uses deep, low-frequency impacts to accentuate metallic hits or act as a LFE to lay beneath the sounds evolving on top, which adds to the overall richness of the effect. This is a technique I have implemented in my own project and can be heard at around 0:05″ and lasts only for about 2 – 3 seconds. Below I have posted a video of s sequence from Transformers which influenced my use of this technique.

Another technique used in my SFX task is the method of associating a sound to a character on screen. This is something that is common in cinema although more so in contemporary cinema where the sound designers are using effects as apposed to music to portray a character. Some of the most famous examples of this are Ben Burtt’s effects used to signify characters of Darth Vader and R2D2 from the Star Wars franchise (dir. G, Lucas). This is a technique I have used in my piece to signal the point of the Terminator robot moving its arm towards the end of the sequence. I wanted to assign the Terminator a low, rumbling growl as it lifted its arm, almost as it were coming to conciousness, which I have marked with a down-pitched lion growl and a synthesised robotic chattering effect to give the it a more mechanical feel. This can be heard at the very end of my piece at around 0:14″.

This video (posted below) shows a documentary on the making of some of the sounds for Terminator: Salvation (2009). This includes a segment with Cameron Frankley, explaining how he went about using the technique of developing and assigning a sound effect to represent the different Terminator robots. This is shown in the video at around 1:00″.

The Sound of "Terminator Salvation" from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Another technique which I employed in the production of my SFX task is the use of atmospheric effects which act as a backdrop to the sounds triggering off on top. The sound comes in at around 0:08″ into my piece and is a fluttering, mid-frequency, FM synthesis sample which rises in pitch from its onset until the end of the piece. For me, this sound helped to accentuate the futuristic, robotic feel of the sequence, bringing out that un-natural, un-earthly vibe that is found in the original Terminator soundtracks. Although, this previously been mentioned, the ‘Paramount’ logo title sequence from the first Transformers film contains a similar sound effect which really helps to set the scene for the rest of the film.

My Sound Effects Task.

Task 7. SFX. from James Utting on Vimeo.

Report for Task 7: SFX.

The objective for task 7 was to create the sound effects track for a given sequence. Visual elements I wanted to highlight were the machinery welding the arms on the Terminator and where the Terminator lifts its arm at the end of the piece, which I have marked with low-frequency impacts and metallic hits. I chose to adopt techniques used by Erik Aadahl in Transformers (2007), of layering samples with low-frequency emissions to fill out the overall sound, and Frankley’s technique of assigning a sound to represent a character on-screen, found in Termintor: Salvation (2009). An audio-sequencing technique I used in this task was the use of the Multi-pressor plug-in in Logic Pro, which I used to compress all of the sounds collectively. An audio technique I have learned is the ability to thicken out the overall sound of a group of samples by layering a low frequency sound underneath. I feel that this task is practice as research because I have looked further into techniques of arranging and layering sound effects found in works such as Aadahl’s Transformers and have developed my research by practicing these techniques through a composition. For this task I would give myself 60% because I feel I have put into practice the techniques behind arranging samples and sound design such as using a sound to represent a character or the multi-layering of samples. My piece shows evidence of this as it demonstrates a good understanding of what the task objective requires and displays the results with a clear compositional structure.

word count: 255


  • Chion, M. (1990) Audio-Vision eds. Gorbman, C. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Star Wars Episode IV. (1977) [DVD], dir. Lucas, USA: Lucasfilm.
  • Terminator: Salvation (2009) [DVD] dir. J. McG, Nichol. USA: The Halcyon Company/Wonderland Sound and Vision.
  • Transformers (2007) [DVD] dir. M, Bay. USA: DreamWorks Pictures.
  • Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009) [DVD] dir. M, Bay. USA: DreamWorks Pictures.
  • Whittington, W. (2007) Sound Desing and Science Fiction. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Web references.


~ by J.E.R.U. on March 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “Task 7. SFX.”

  1. great! one comment, you know when the lights shine quickly on the body of the terminator? you have not accounted for those! other than that, I find the mix a bit harsh, perhaps EQ your FX to get more differentiation and depth? well done !

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