The working sound studio

In document Animation Andrew Selby (Page 125-130)

The advent and availability of sound-recording, production, mixing, and editing technology to create professional-quality soundscapes has developed signifi cantly in the past two decades. By using a computer with audio software, supplemented with synchronized hardware such as video

Independent productions often work on small budgets and so need to creatively improvise sound design. Madame Tutli-Putli’s sound design is cleverly crafted to complement the art direction of the animated fi lm.



monitors and mixing desks, it has been possible to achieve high levels of production at a fraction of the cost charged by professional studios. Through a mixture of the sound designer’s creativity and technological knowledge, professional recording possibilities are now available for independent animators and students at a competitive price.

Collecting and processing data

There is now a host of powerful software applications capable of working across Mac and PC platforms using advanced authoring formats, including Pro Tools, Logic Audio, Audition, and Nuendo. The ability to store, copy, and edit fi les means that far more can be done with them without disturbing or damaging the original recording, using dual processors for speed of working and stability of stored data. Working with digital audio systems also has the advantage of creating detailed visual data in the form of waves that “illustrate”

the audio fi les, allowing the sense of sight to help in making accurate edits, rather than the analog tradition of using hearing alone. These edited audio fi les can be checked using QuickTime Player (Mac) or Microsoft Windows Media Player (PC).

Most audio software also includes MIDI technology, which is able to recognize data being emitted from electronic sound sources, such as keyboards and drum machines. This data can be captured, edited, and recycled by both composers and sound designers building effects.

In other cases, synthesizers and samplers can be synchronized directly to the computer to provide bespoke sounds and yet more options for sound-effect generation. Then the fi les are encoded using systems such as Nuendo Dolby Digital or SmartCode DTS-DVD. Software and hardware are connected through an audio interface using FireWire or USB technology, providing both input and output options.

Mixing desks

Given the complexity of the sound component of an animated production, it is desirable to build any soundscape with as much real-time “hands-on”

control as possible. The modern studio mixing desk allows the sound engineer to work with source visuals, editing and mixing sound stems in tandem to create the overall aural feel of the scene in question. These mixing desks allow for stereo panning of individual sounds by seemingly placing sounds around the audience, or by surrounding the audience in a cloak of sound. Additionally, the panel allows sounds to be faded and checked using parallel audio and video playback monitors.


Sound performs a vital role in animation but, because the visual action on screen is constantly moving and evolving, it is often marginalized. In many

respects, successful sound design should accompany the visual action, in certain circumstances introducing, developing, and signaling aspects of the plot or characters, while in other parts providing a more emotive or evocative background, encouraging the audience to ponder and refl ect on the story or anticipate what might follow. By default, audiences will, therefore, be more aware of a score, musical cues, or special effects at certain points.

The success of the sound design hinges on careful planning and good execution by the members of the crew responsible for interpreting the script and story ideas, designing the sound to include music, dialogue, narration, and special effects where appropriate, and preparing for these recordings to take place in the production phase. Now the project is gathering pace, with the consolidation of visual and sound planning material providing momentum for the crew. The different components of the production are still very much working in tandem, marshaled by the director, and it will soon be time to fi nally review the preproduction material for agreement and sign-off, signaling that the project can now move into full production.

5. Pr oduction

The real advantage of animation as an artifi cially constructed medium is the variety of ways that projects can be realized. This fl exibility ensures that traditional and digital processes can co-exist, enabling traditionalists and purists to continue producing work in the fi eld, but opening up the possibility that new participants can use animation also for communication, information, education, and entertainment productions. From simple projection devices, such as the zoetrope and praxinoscope, through traditional hand-drawn and painted cels, stop motion, and jointed puppets, to advanced computer-generated virtual animation, the continuing experimental possibilities of animation are central to its extraordinary success as a pervasive and progressive art form. A great idea, a burning ambition to tell a particular story, or a compulsion to deliver a particular set of facts, coupled with a thorough understanding of previous, current, and potential future techniques of animation are the raw ingredients needed to produce exciting work.

This chapter examines the variety of production methods used to create animated content—traditional cel animation, stop motion, 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI), and unorthodox processes. Consideration is given to the history and development of these forms, illustrating successful exponents of each and providing detail about the benefi ts and limitations that students can expect to contend with when producing their own work.

Attention is also given to the development of sound in the production

phase and the signing off of the fi nal work by the director. Choosing animation as a preferred

communication vehicle has been commercially very successful for the British bank Lloyds TSB, with spin-off merchandising following public awareness and brand recognition.



In document Animation Andrew Selby (Page 125-130)

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