Designing Sounds for a Sci-Fi Movie 1


DSP Sci-Fi can generate all the sounds you need (spaceships, blasters, aliens, robots, UI…) for your science-fiction project. In this 2-part post, we will see how easy it is to design the whole soundscape of a sci-fi video! First, let’s check the final result below.

City Ambience

The first part of the sequence presents a character overlooking an ultra-modern city.  Therefore, the Futuristic City patch of the Ambiences category is a great place to start to create the bed layer. As the city itself is a bit distant and not so busy,  we boost the Distant Traffic section of the patch and totally mute the Siren. We also adjust the Tone in the Rumble section, using a higher pitch to boost that sci-fi vibe.

Since we are relatively high above the city, we also add some light wind. The Planet Biome patch is great to generate elements-based sounds. We simply mute everything but the Wind, and since we are in a hi-tech urban environment, we also turn down the Vegetation, while boosting the Air and Whistling parameters. Finally, we slightly lower the default Wind Power. Planet Biome is one of the many new patches available in DSP Sci-Fi 1.1, do not forget to download the free update if you haven’t done it yet.

To add some activity, we add a Transport Ship passby. To make it sound a bit distant (and avoid too much overlap with the wind layer), we lower the Engine Noise and completely mute the Deflectors. For a longer ambience – or in a game situation -, random ranges could be assigned to the Tone Pitch and Modulation parameters, and we could generate several variations that would be randomly triggered at runtime. Generating vehicle passbys in DSP Sci-Fi is very simple, and adding sounds with the Transport Ship but also Speeder Bike, Flying Car or Patrol Car patches, all in the Vehicles category, is an easy way to improve your futuristic soundscapes.

Control Room

We are now in a control room with an operator interacting with a terminal. First, we create a Roomtone with the Bridge patch of the Ambiences category. The default patch is slightly modified to make everything a bit higher pitch-wise, but we really lower the volume of the Bleeps, Radar and Telemetry components, to not interfere with the UI sounds of the terminal.

These basic beeps are generated using the Select Click patch of the Interfaces category. Keeping only the Osc section – with a touch of delay – we create a few variations at different pitches. Then, in the same patch we add a layer by using the Modes section. We select a smooth envelope to complement the beep sound that has a faster attack. To emphasize the end of the typing sequence we also add a sound generated with the Zoom Swipe patch (including some modulation) and then a Confirm Cancel sound which is also a mix of Modes and Osc sections. Finally, we use the Switch section of the Panel patch to add some sense of physicality when the operator is touching the screen.

Since this is a control room, we conclude our sound design by adding some voices coming from the intercom system. Several patches from the Lifeforms category offer a speech mode that is perfectly suited for this task. Here, we choose the Insectoid patch with a high Pitch, and we randomize its Vocalization parameter to be able to generate different speech patterns. To simulate a lo-fi intercom speaker, we can process the rendered files in our favorite DAW with a basic band-pass filter and a bit of reverb.

Note that in order to optimize your workflow, all the tools of the DSP series let you select an external editor (e.g., Audacity) in the Settings window. Then, each time to press the Edit button, the sound will be rendered and open in that editor. It makes it immediate to add some post-processing to the generated sounds.

GameSynth Engines Plugin video

This concludes the first part of our post on sound design for a sci-fi movie or animation. We have seen how the various patches of DSP Sci-Fi can be used to create convincing futuristic ambiences. In the second part, things will get a bit more hectic, with some blaster action, explosions, and a spaceship!

DSP Sci-fi