Sound design

Background

Otherzone is a short film based around ideas of speculative sci-fi, cyber-culture and techno-visions of a dystopian future. Written and directed by David Cox, it incorporates David's ideas along these lines and issues, culminating in a rhetorical/allegorical narrative.

The film also experiments with contracted narrative form as inspired by computer games (a theoretical area in which David works and researches). Added to this is his early tests of how to integrate computer imagery and computer generated sequences into a filmed environment.

Credits

Writer/director - David Cox
Sound effects design - Philip Brophy

1997

Premiere - 43rd Melbourne International Film Festival

Overview

Otherzone required the recording, processing and designing of sound effects and atmospheres to form the sound design for the film. The film was being produced in 35mm which allowed for Dolby Surround mixing. The sounds design was developed by Philip based initially on David's storyboard and animatic. As there were numerous CGI sequences, the sound design was conceptually discussed so that work could progress while the CGI rendering was being completed.

Based on sound design in anime, Philip proposed the sound effects to be based around principles of energy generation. This required breaking-down the script into key actions and events, and then - in relation to David's production design and visualization - deciding upon the sonic means by which the sounds would be generated in the film's futuristic setting. To maintain this logic, a formula was developed and applied consistently, with each sound effect designed according to a 3-part energy propulsion:
Part 1 - build up of energy
Part 2 - peak expulsion of energy
Part 3 - dying-off of residual energy

Each of these 'parts' was assembled via a discrete sound effect with its specific wave-sample editing and processing. The 3 wave samples are combined so that the final sound effects incongruously evoke different textures as the 3 energy phases fold into/dissolve/cut into one another.

Atmospheres were then designed around these effects, so that the sound effects retained their dynamic and presence within the mix. Following cues in the Otherzone story, two distinct 'sonic realms' were also developed. One represented the humans and the rebels, and was based around 'natural/organic' sounds, while the other represented the cyborgs and corporate lords whose sounds were overtly 'synthetic'.

Finally, spatialization issues were considered so that in many scenes sonic activity occurs off screen, or continues on into another scene but from a transformed spatial location.

Technical

Sound Effects

001. * 60s computers - book being flipped (re-used as Nam Melogue's head space & Future Melbourne atmos)
002. D theremin - synth
003. * jet engine effect - synth (re-used as military satellites spinning)
004. * piercing synth drone (re-used as build-up into the Otherzone)
005. * crumpled cellophane
006. * public: synth
007. * commercial: synth
008. * military: synth (re-used as Chickensticks rattle)
009. * whirling strips in wind 1
010. * slight scraping of metallic blades/sheets 1
011. Stelarc's laughter effected - location DAT
012. * low throbbing hum - synth
013. * door bangs
014. * wine glass shimmer
015. * low sharp electric hum - synth
016. * metallic boom when hitting ground - contact mic through DP4 distortion.
017. * vocal pop reversed when lifting feet off-ground
018. * servo motors
019. * fast clock ticking
020. * alarms - synth
021. * banal voice distorted: "Warning! Security breach!"
022. * metal slam
023. * wooden slam
024. * various high-pitched modulating hums - synth
025. * beeps 1 - synth
026. * metallic bolt rattle
027. * celery snap (paper scrunch)
028. * contact mic of fridge body being struck
029. * piggy bank: coin movement processed
030. * moon: low oscillator pitch drop - synth (re-used more as key movement & its accessibility)
031. * general zipping movement - synth
032. * huge crash of shed door opening
033. * fluttering of streamers
034. * whipper snipper (fuzzed voice)
035. * fridge hum 1
036. * shower heard from my bedroom
037. * synth pop 1
038. * synth static during transmission (note: sfx 038 & 039 combined)
039. * distorted DP4 of my voice cut up/etc. w/random loop starting and filtering
040. * foghorns - synth
041. * hisses - synth
042. * jet roar - crumpled leaves (also used for miscellaneous white noise embellishments)
043. tyre burn - location DAT
044. natural atmos - location DAT
045. * whirling strips in wind 2
046. * slight scraping of metallic blades/sheets 2
047. D traffic atmos w/horns
048. * planes/jets
049. D matrix printer
050. * wind - synth
051. * lawnmower (processed)
052. * ping-pong radar emission - synth
053. * paper tears 1 - highly phased
054. * power drill
055. * electric shaver
056 * clock gears whirring
057. * synth pop 2
058. * crackling high pitched drone - synth
059. * pseudo-whir for camera focus - treated voice
060. * shortwave radio treated with water effects
061. * contact mic of water in plastic bottle
062. * layers of distorted noise - synth
063. * waves - synth (RingMod noise)
064. * ambience - highly reverbed oscillator tone glides (also used for Otherzone title & Kareen/moon appearance)
065. * chime - synth
066. * pencil case zip for shark's movement
067. * jingling of keys with synthesized loop 1 (re-used as piggy bank presence)
068. * heart beat - mic
069. D sample small orchestral burst from record (Powerbook 150)
070. * drone - synth (re-used as Otherzone becoming unhinged)
071. * synth pop 3 (re-used as Netspex screen info)
072. * airport paging - voice processed
073. * Live @ The Roxy sample
074. * Russell St. video game arcade
075. * click - pen top being pushed
076. * modulating 3 octave hum - synth
077. * weird sound - synth
078. * paper bag pop processed
079. * insinkerator processed
080. * ecstatic sighs - voice
081. * low heavy breathing - voice
082. * tinkling gamelan sounds
083. * jingling of keys with synthesized loop 2
084. * guttural roar - voice processed
085. * hiss - synth
086. D power chord - synth
087. * remote turned on - stapler gun
088. * beeps 2 - synth
089. patrons' oohs/aahs
090. * high pitched tink - synth (spanner)
091. * reversed reverbed hand clap
092. * whoosh - voice
093. * video cassette slipped into case
094. * pop/crack - voice through DP4
095. * rustle of paper bag
096. * velcro tear
097. * carry case locks processed
098. * Heat sample or sfx CD (velcro tear)
099. screams - voices
100. * slam on vinyl couch (re-used as extra Chickenstick's feet booms)
101. * vocal grunt
102. scream
103. * distorted DP4 of my voice cut up/etc. w/random loop starting and filtering
104. * clumping on metal stairs
105. * small suitcase crack
106. * fridge hum 2
107. * metallic ka-ching! (microwave bell & toaster)
108. * whoosh - voice (re-used as rungs passing o/head in lift)
109. * mouldy vegetable squelch (re-used as flesh blob shutting over Nam Melogue's face)
110. * paper tear 2
111. * creaking metal
112. * drop of tool case on concrete (re-used as flesh blob shutting over Nam Melogue's face)
113. * slide book along table
114. * video eject sound
115. * backwards zip - synth
116. * boom - synth
117. D muzak in elevator
118. * white noise - synth
119. * distinctive hum - synth (metal bang)
120. * whistling wind - synth (tool box)
121. * bleep - synth (re-used as screen info when Otherzone crashes)
122. * swimming pool interiors processed
123. * ultralight aircraft buzzing - synth
124. * extremely low throbbing - synth
125. * occasional growls - synth
126. processed dialogue of Stelarc
127. * detonation - voice through DP4
128. * flapping of wet towels
129. * sucking sound - voice
130. * various bubbling synth sounds - synth
131. * running water processed
132. * frying onions
133. * vegetable squelching (re-used as tentacles moving)
134. * lock - creaking leather couch
135. * oscillator tune-down - synth
136. * light glistening tinkles - synth
137. * zip 1 - synth
138. * mega reverbed boom/snap - synth
139. * dronal presence - synth
140. * electronic signals - synth
141. * wash of distant bubbling synths - synth
142. D rattle of padlock
143. * fizzy drink being opened
144. * zap - synth
145. * zips 2 - synth
146. * cracks - edits of paper scrunched onto mic
147. * booms - phased/filtered scrapes
148. * rice on plate
149. * tinkles of glasses processed/verbed
150. * waves - synth
151. * slight crumple of paper processed
152. * breath processed
153. * Kareen's eye twinkle - synth
154. * siren - synth
155. * extra shark zipping - synth
156. * white flashes - synth