Vegetable Abuse

Working in a talent-based industry is an experience in and of its own – this becomes even more apparent when you line an empty room with plastic sheets and pulverize a variety of fresh produce to capture the sounds of breaking bones, splattering blood, and tearing flesh. And all this happens on a Tuesday afternoon. Along with insightful commentary provided by sound designers Dustin and George, Digital Extremes is proud to present the results of a Foley session that left the 17th floor of an office complex smelling like cabbage…

- - -
For the longest time I had wanted this recording session to become a reality. I would keep watching the 'making of' videos for various games and movies and thinking that I really wanted to do something like that. Plus, we'd have a library of gore sounds to draw from whenever we needed them. Pretty much a win/win.

The whole process from concept to creation probably took less than a week, and things moved along quickly. After finding a suitable location for the recording, it was just a matter of getting the gear set up and letting loose. We had put some thought into how we were actually going to set up the session, but it turned out that a single microphone is all we really needed. We chose the C1000S as our source recording microphone as it's good at picking up what's directly in front of it, and it blocks out a lot of the background noise. Plus it already had a semi-decent splatter guard in place with its wind filter, and our selection of mics was limited. My biggest fear was that we were going to capture more of the hammer impact than the actual 'splatter', but it actually worked out pretty well.

As you can see from the video, our 'mobile recording rig' is an Mbox 2 recording interface running on PC with Pro Tools LE. It got the job done.

We hit up a local market down the street from the office to pick out the days victims, and it was a lot of fun to browse through different fruits and vegetables, wondering what type of sound they'd make with a full velocity hammer ripping through them. I wish he had the video camera with us at the time, merely to capture the look on the market guy's face at the completely random assortment of items we were buying.

Over the years I've entertained many questions concerning my profession; mainly, “how do you make sounds?” It is a mystery to many people how this whole sound design process works, and I think one of the major misconceptions with the game side of sound is that we use mostly prerecorded CD libraries. It’s true that libraries do come in handy, and I'm definitely not saying they're useless. They're a great time saver, and you can create some truly unique sounds from recordings you wouldn't be able to easily obtain on your own (ie. recording a lion). They also help to beef up some of your own recordings. With this video though, I wanted to show that a lot of time is also spent 'out in the field', gathering and collecting our own selection of sounds. Many of the same processes for creating those big budget Hollywood film sound effects hold true for game sound design.

After reading over some of the comments posted online about this video, the ones that stuck out the most were the ones that expressed an interest in becoming a sound designer. If in any shape or form we've managed to inspire the next generation of great sound designers, then mission accomplished.

Dustin Crenna
Sound Design

- - -
A lot of the fun in sound design is recording your own unique sounds to work with. That was probably one of my greatest motivators to get into sound design, as it allows you the most control from concept to integration. The ability to work with technology to capture fruit and vegetable sounds can be very entertaining as well.

Quite often in professional circles there is much discussion about technique and tools. The important thing to remember is that the recording equipment you use is really only 20% of the battle. WHAT you record is probably the single most important determining factor in a successful sound design project. That, along with the ability to ‘think outside the box’ will allow you to come up with new ways to use sounds that you normally wouldn’t think of using.

It is an interesting exercise to just close your eyes and actually pay attention to the sounds around you. We take hearing for granted because it does its job in the background, without our noticing it. Quite often our eyes will tell us that we can’t use a particular object to create a sound when in actual fact it will work really well. The trick is to be more aware of our hearing rather than sight.

This session was particularly fun to do because it not only allowed us to get some really cool bone crunching, neck snapping, and blood splatter for Dark Sector but also enabled us to make different sound combinations from everyday items.


George Spanos
Sound Design