Guns, guns, guns… many of the successful indie and triple A games are gun based (or, at least, guns play a great role on them). And for us, sound designers, creating guns and shooting sounds are one of the most fun experiences there are.
That gets even more interesting when we’re talking about Sci-Fi weapons: they have unique (many times, not real) sounds, that gives us almost infinite creative possibilities. But how can we create them?
Well, the A Sound Effect blog did a great, great post about this. Called How To Design Supreme Sci-Fi Weapon Sound Effects, it gives us some insights and techniques on how to record, design, create and layer many different types of sounds to make a Sci-Fi weapon.
Two of the things that most interested me on this post was the detailed info and tips it gives us, like synths used to create futuristic sounds, useful plugins, etc; and the way it was written: step by step instructions on how to create all the necessary layers for a great Sci-Fi weapon sound.
The structure for designing almost any real gun can be summed up in the following main parts:
• Body – actual gunshot
• Mechanics layer — magazine, safety switch, scope, trigger and bolt action sounds
• Bass (Punch) — low-frequency layer to enhance a weapon
Despite seeming limited for our subject, such structure provides a good backbone for designing any futuristic gun. However, it can be expanded to a much wider list of possible elements to accommodate better realism and uniqueness.
Possible elements of a sci-fi weapon:
• Activation sensors (safety on/off) — scanning sounds, confirmation or denial sounds
• Retracting/unfolding sounds — metallic clicks, servos, electronic sounds
• Intelligent aiming system — scanning enemies through a visor/scope, zoom sounds, laser aiming
• Charging – often used for big, slow-firing guns
• Energy discharge — this is one of the key elements in a weapon. It can be any matter or a heavy projectile, depending on a concept, but the possibilities are truly endless. Dark matter, antigravity, electromagnetic discharge, electricity, fire, liquid nitrogen, cold plasma, slicing beams and many more
• Heat management — sounds of overheating, overloading upon discharge, failure
• Rotating barrels — speeding up, slowing down
See?! And this is just the beginning of the article.
So, to finish, I share here also a sound example present on the end of the post:
Here’s a breakdown of the individual sound components that went into designing a futuristic weapon sound effect.
0:01 bleeping layer
0:04 charging layer
0:07 main gunshot (made in Massive + overdrive and eq on it)
0:10 same gunshot with a bit of explosion mixed in
0:13 mechanical layer – simple trigger
0:15 bass (punch) layer – made by vocoding the main gunshot with an explosion sound
0:18 punch – a kick drum
0:21 another bass layer – derivative of the first one
0:24 all layers together
0:30 all layers + explosion added to a gunshot
Hope this helps you. It sure did helped me! 😀
If you have any other tips, or articles about his subject, please share on the comments section!
Mauricio Ruiz – www.mauricioruiz.me