Tales of Runeterra: Bildgewater "Double-Double Cross"

Sound Redesign
Project Overview
     This sound redesign is the last project I completed while at Vancouver Film School. It was a 7 week race to get all project planning, casting, recording ADR and foley, editing, and mixing done. I had about 4 weeks for all edits, 2 for mixing/fixes/instructor panel, and 1 for last minute fixes before industry professionals would visit our theatre in person and critique my work.

     I wanted to find a video that fulfilled the school's requirements and included moments for each of my skills while still telling a fun story. Below is a breakdown of my thought process.

- characters to demonstrate dialogue record/direct/edit/mix skills as well as challenging voice design for the first time.
- character interactions out of combat and heavy music ques for foley.
- combat and/or magic for SFX/SPFX
- relatively empty moments for BG/Specs in an interesting environment. A moment to breath as well as create opportunity for dynamic range.
- sections where music ques would support the picture.

     I've never had to source talent for a project before and the video I chose had many characters for a 3 minute video, so I put out an ad on Craigslist and sent an email to VFS Acting at the earliest moment I could. I'm fortunate to have had voice actors in Vancouver interested in volunteering for my project!  However, I needed to go through auditions and demos and come to a decision on cast quickly. Never having done this, I thought about the auditions I have done for classical music gigs. I chose 3 lines each for character. One whisper, one speaking, and one yell line so I could hear a range of deliveries.

     Surprisingly, I had too many people email me, so I needed to commit to only spending a certain amount of time per day to go over auditions and set up dates to get this done. To do that, I used a Gantt Chart to define each task in my entire project including start and end dates. I also allowed one day a week to be completely open to account for the fact that I was still in school and learning/getting feedback from industry pros and insightful classmates. Things change and new ideas for improvement were constant, so I wanted to make sure I had time to implement these changes as I went.

     The best piece of advice I got for recording voice actors was from Miguel Araujo. I had experience recording other students, but not with professionals yet, so when I asked, "What might be one thing to avoid and one thing to focus on doing going into these sessions", he said to never give line reads to actors and instead, I should describe what I want clearly and accurately. A whisper with more intensity? A more sarcastic attitude? I got this right away because it is the same in music. Just asking for another take and hoping for something better doesn't work. I've continued this practice with all voice actors I record in my professional studio career as well.
     For editing dialogue, I cleaned clicks and plosives and used Elastic Audio in Pro Tools for any sections of ADR that required it as normal, but the main challenge was the designed voice. The Sea Witch is collecting sacrifices, so I wanted to include more than one single voice to suggest that she is trapping or absorbing these people somehow. To do this, I recorded a female voice and a lower male voice,  which I processed through Wormhole, then added some reverse-reverb breaths/words as layers under or preceding the speech. In the mix, after setting up the dialogue chain, I fiddled with the faders for the female and male voices to make them roll in and out of dominating the Sea Witch voice. This also helped with clarity.

     I used Soundly to take my recordings as well as library source into the session. I recorded all the foley and some SFX like my leather belt tension recordings for the ropes in the film. By editing layers with the low-mid-high frequencies in mind and pre-mixing as I went, I could choose to sweeten my recordings appropriately before I went into the theatre mix days and ultimately work in an efficient way. I think using personal recorded libraries as much as possible is great, but as a student with limited useable recordings at the time using everything I could and taking any advantage of the sound libraries we had was important. This also gave me ideas for how to name, organize, and search my own library after graduation. A majority of my designs were done with a variety of plugins like Crystallizer by Sound Toys, Trash 2 and Iris 2 by Izotope, and Whoosh by Tonsturm, just to name a few.

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