Master Of Animation, Games & Interactivity
Master Of Animation, Games & Interactivity

Week 11 Voice Design


Context: This week has come to an end for both IOL and Studio, the semester is almost over and my focus this week has been on the final sound design. I actually considered sound design from the very beginning of the Animatic phase. Sound design is crucial for animations without lines, and when the right sound effects are added, it makes the whole scene feel alive. Sound effects can even fix small deficiencies in the animation, so sound design was an important factor in the two weeks I chose to spend tweaking it. A good soundscape can guide the viewer through the plot and graphics, especially if there are animated distortions, and it can help the unfamiliar viewer to understand things better. Sound design includes both sound effects and music, with some animations choosing only sound effects and others choosing both, and each animator has their own preferences and considerations as to the length of music in the film. So the final result was inspired by related work.

This week's experimental clip

Reflective text:

Version1 Internet music and voice
This is an experiment I did during the Animatic stage. When I had the proper sound effects for each shot, I felt a bit bored, so I put on a soundtrack, a popular song from the internet. But with this transformation, the piece didn’t become rich, or rather, it was too noisy. I tried turning down the volume of the background music, but this still didn’t help much. The sound effects were mixed with the background music; as far as the sound aspect was concerned, people could not clearly distinguish between the sound and the background music. This makes it even more difficult for them to focus on the animation, which has a lot of very rapid transitions, many of which linger for concise periods, and if you can’t concentrate and immerse yourself in them, you miss a lot of the action. So this version of the sound was a bit overwhelming, so I felt I needed to do some subtraction and reduce it a bit.

Version2 Voice only
In this version, I have chosen to keep the sound only, removing the noisy and inappropriate background music. With only the sounds, one can focus more on the animation, and the sound effects have somewhat improved the animation for minor shortcomings. For example, when the clock melts, it becomes a drop of water into a jug of water, and when the heartbreaks, the drop of water on the wrist becomes a watch. These shots add the sound of water dripping, but it’s an entirely different case of dripping. The heart ruptures and the water drips onto the wrist as a crisp, small drip. However, a water drop in a kettle has a particular echo, and as kettles are mostly made of stainless steel, the sound of water on the wrist is quite different to that on metal. I have deepened these small details in this version to better reflect the materiality of the objects in the picture. In this version, the monotonous sound was intended to allow the viewer to focus more on the image and not be distracted by the loud background sound. However, with the background music removed, the whole animation is again a little too quiet, and it can be tedious for people to hear the sound and then continue watching the animation without a sound. I had to find a suitable soundtrack.

Version3 Design music and voice
After searching for a lot of music on the internet, which didn’t work well, I asked my friend to create a piece of music for me. He is a very talented music designer and at first, due to time constraints and the fact that I was still adjusting the speed of my work, he composed a piece based on the feeling I wanted to convey and the total length of the film. But later on, I finished adjusting the speed in the last two weeks, but when I put this music on, the lyric-free tune did stop stealing attention, but it didn’t sound like it was immersing people in the transitions and emotions of the animation. In the end, I handed over the whole animation to him to create a completely bespoke music score, which he made based on the animation’s speed and the mood’s rendering. The final version of the music matched the rhythm of the animation. It could better bring the audience into the animation and feel the emotional ups and downs of the main characters. This experiment proved that music and sound design are crucial in the design of animation without lines.

Related work

Improv, Lewis Heriz (2018)

Improve is an experimental abstract animation by Lewis, a postgraduate student at the Royal College of Art. Abstract animation tests an animator’s imagination and ability to morph. Most abstract animation does not animate and tells a story in a linear sequence. Instead, multiple lines of abstract animation take place simultaneously, and they again do not conform to a common sense trajectory of movement. As there are no concrete characters, stories or even objects in abstract animation, there are no lines, narration or textual descriptions. The abstract animation combines abstract pattern changes with the music, making it unclear whether the music is guiding the shapes like a snake dancer or whether the figures are playing the music. I was inspired by this animation, as music is one of the essential elements in life, and there is sound everywhere. The choice to use music to enrich the animation is a very clever. As I have always said, the animation is a combined medium of many aspects, not a single art form. Influenced by Improve, the variations of abstract shapes in each of its shots match the music very well, and they snap into motion together, which is the ideal effect I wanted to achieve.

Temple of Guangdi, Jinyun Yang, Zhuo Pan (2021)

Temple of Guangdi is a Chinese opera-style animation. Unlike other traditional Chinese animations, this animation not only uses Chinese ink brush strokes but also incorporates a Peking Opera, The Three Forks, into the animation’s soundtrack. Two men take refuge in the Temple of Guangdi to escape the rain, but both fall in love with the temple’s solid gold incense burner, and a battle of wits ensues. In the animation, the animated characters move precisely to the beat of the opera’s drums, but there are brief pauses in the music when both men are suspicious and testing each other. But when the two men are on a violent chase, the music picks up, creating a sense of urgency throughout the animation, which also engages the audience. Furthermore, one of the most intriguing and inspiring aspects of this animation is that the style of the animation’s drawings, when paired with music from the same cultural background, makes the animation more distinctive and personal. The overall harmony of the style helps to reinforce the identity of the animation and makes it memorable.

About This Work

By Xiying Yao (Eve)
Email Xiying Yao (Eve)
Published On: 25/10/2022