2.05.2009

A Whole New World

:: No, it's not about Disney (sorry all you Aladdin fans). It's the creation of a scene in an alien world using sound alone. This was our first project of the winter quarter for AAPW and focused on using our acquired skills creatively. The idea was to have a scene in mind first, then create that scene with any sound sources available to us. If you want to listen to the clip first and figure out what I envisioned, what I used to create the effects, or just want to create your own version of what this alien environment is like, then I suggest you click play and close your eyes right now, before I explain. I encourage you to NOT read on until you have listened.

The original scene I played out in my head and later on in the computer is probably fairly obvious: a conversation between two alien creatures. To get the alien language, I wrote out a simple (and fairly strange) conversation and translated it into Spanish. I don't speak Spanish, so I had to use an online tool (freetranslation.com, very handy) to do it for me, and since you have to pay for idiomatic translation, I had to stick with a really rough literal one. I then recorded myself speaking both sides of the conversation and used a pitch-shifting tool in Pro Tools to differentiate each side and thus create two separate characters. Although they already sounded nothing like me, they still sounded human, and definitely still sounded like really bad Spanish. To overcome this, I simply reversed each segment of speech to result in the sound you hear in the recording. If you play this backwards, you will actually hear the Spanish words (although the conversation itself with be spoken chronologically backwards).

As for the ambient sounds, those were recorded in a previous session for a totally different reason. Those sounds were part of a noise composition for a student in another class who agreed that in return for recording her piece, I could use the sound clips for my project. The setting I created with these sounds for the alien dialogue was, hopefully, a spaceport bar. The bubbling and occasionally squealing sound represents some sort of drink with fuzzy creatures in it which are eaten as the liquid is drunk (like a worm in a margarita I suppose). This was originally a Dremel drilled against a pop can; a plug-in turned it into a delicious beverage. Way in the background of the noise, there is a strange reverberated squawking that was my flight announcer for the spaceport; this was simply a synth loop with some EQ and reverb used to throw it far away acoustically from the listener. The most obvious of the sounds is the spaceships themselves, swooping overhead. This was achieved by recording a bass guitar through a distortion and a wah pedal and then using simple volume and panning automation to bring it in and out of the picture. I will hopefully add some pictures of my miking setup later on when it's not midnight; for now, you'll have to just envision it all as you listen to my acoustic scifi ::

UPDATE: File is now only available at http://musicianator.web.officelive.com/default.aspx