One of the most exciting but also daunting challenges that you'll face when designing the sounds for an animated project is the task of starting with a blank canvas. Because there is no actual location to hear how the environment sounds or how the space reacts to movement and speech, you’ll be building a sound world from scratch. It’s important to take care and be very intentional with the sounds that you choose to use.
You may be crafting anything from background sounds like ambiences, wind, weather and the hum of an interior, to foreground sounds like mechanical sound effects, vehicles, Foley effects and vocalizations.
Creating Your Own Sound Effects
With many cartoons and animations being set in incredibly surreal and abstract worlds, you may not be able to find the right sounds in a library. You’ll most likely have to go out to a location field recording or even build your own sound effects props.
For a lot of cartoons, you’ll want to avoid creating anything too realistic. Instead you may want to create more caricature style sound effects.
Here are a few examples of sound effects and how you would create them:
Bird Call Whistles: There’s a huge variety of Bird Call Whistles, perfect for composing your own Dawn Chorus.
Horse Hooves: Coconut Shells on various surfaces - gravel is a nice place to start. You can also use a Geophone alongside your microphone for some extra weight.
Slide Whistle: For that classic Eee-yoooooop! sound.
Soldiers - Use a Marching Machine / Troop Blocks on various surfaces - wood and metal surfaces work well. Like with the horse hooves, you can use a Geophone alongside your microphone for some extra weight.
Splashes: Use a large rubber tub, line the inside with towels to avoid plastic sounding splashes and fill with water. Submerging different objects like paddles, plungers or your bare hands will give you different sounds.
Tyre Screeches: Inflate a hot water bottle and drag it across various surfaces.
Wind: A Wind Whistle or you can build your own D.I.Y. Wind Machine using an upturned bicycle and sheet of canvas on the wheel.
Lots of Toys: Board Game Pieces, Chess Pieces, Guiros, Marbles, Slime, Silly Putty, Slinky, Rattles, Whirling Tubes and Classroom Musical Instruments are all great for sillier sound effects.
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