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How to create medieval war sounds?

Peter Tolnay:

I do sound design for computer games. My current project is a fantasy game with lot of fights using swords, spears, bows/arrows, plate armours and so one. I plan to make all the sound unique so i can`t use any sound libraries for that game.

How could i make my 'hit' sounds more nasty, bloudy?
And how to create good armour (movement, hit) sounds? I have recorded lot of metal objects but they don`t sound good even if i mix them.

What should be the trick to do really good medieval weapon and armour sounds?

Carl Warner:

Recording sound efx is of course both a craft AND an art. I really beleive that it takes a very special talent to create outstanding, superlative efx.

Here are somne things that could inhance the sound of armour clashing:

(1) Tweak the high end, especially above 5K.

(2) Add reverb. Even try adding reverb to the reverb. Be careful, that the result dosen't sound like an echo chamber. You want extremely SHORT reverb time.

3) Punch up a bit on the lows.

Randy Thom:

There isn't any trick, Peter. You just start recording everything you can think of, and filter out what doesn't work dramatically. Remember that you almost always want to record objects bigger than the ones literally depicted. That is because aural/visual storytelling virtually always involves exaggerating reality, not duplicating it.

For metal clashes....think metal clashes. Record every kind of ringy metal object you can find crashing into other similar objects. Think sledge hammers on railroad rails, think i-beam against i-beam.....that kind of exaggeration.

For gushy, bloody, visceral impacts, think about stabbing very muddy earth with big shovels.....slashing into huge melons with machetes, etc.

Most important, don't think literally. Think metaphorically. Exaggerate. You can always pull back and make the sound more "realistic" but the magic is usually in the larger-than-life metaphor of the stab. Stabbing a thawed chicken corpse is probably a waste of time. Stab a dead cow with a twelve foot long pipe.

If it was easy, anybody could do it.

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Your sort of in the foley world here in that it is alot easier to create a "more compleate" sound with foley techniques that to try and build every sound from little bits.

Having done a bunch of armour for a couple of projects the things that worked well were mechanical things like car jacks, snow chains various tools that had sections that bend so you get some movement.

Also diserent metals sound different, for instance you need to get some tempered steel (like a surplus sword - a real one not decorative) to get the kind of "shing" I'm sure your looking for, plain steel will just sound dull.

When your editing, I'm asuming PT, you can sharpen up a hit or inpact (sometimes whooshes also) by using the "gain" plugin. Do the find peak then slide up the gain so that the new peak will be at around plus five dB. This will clip the peak of the impact in a very non musical way that works quite well for hits.

Peter Tolnay:

Thank you for all your help, and advices. I`ve recorded big sized steel things, and i think that this session was quite succesfull.

I found, that with a shovel you can make nice saber sounds for example, and for bigger crashy sound (broadsword, sword) it can be good to close mike the sound source to distort the mike itself a bit. Then mix this distorted sound with clean 'undamaged' sound and play with EQ.

The Cinema Audio Society Discussion Board Oct 2002


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