Last Wednesday (Nov. 30rd) I went to a seminar with Craig Henighan about the sound of Stranger Things. For who doesn’t know, Craig is the sound designer of the Netflix series many got super excited about. It was a free seminar, made by Avid and Annex Pro (Avid’s official reseller in Vancouver), where Craig talked a bit about the creative process, his workflow and how he ended up getting the job. Turned out to be a great event, so I decided to talk about some interesting insights I learned there.
The first thing that caught my attention was about how the sound of the Entity was made. Craig’s first idea was not to use animal’s or human’s sound (like it’s usually done for monsters and aliens), but try to get pieces of sound from unusual things (like dry ice, squeaks, etc). This came to his mind because the remembered that the sound of the “Alien” movie was done using a capuccino maker and peacocks. But that first idea failed.
After, he tried to record his own voice and manipulate it using Dehumaniser (Kroto’s famous plugin) and some other tools, but it ended up sounding more like a troll than the alien that he intended.
In the end, he decided to take a look over his sample collection, and found a seal library (from Hiss and Roar) that had some interesting sounds, and with some pitch shift and cutting, he found the “hook” for the Entity’s sound. Pretty amazing, right?!
During this explanation about the Entity’s sound, Craig said something that really got to me (as obvious it may sound): in the past, a sound designer was as good as his sound library was, right!? But nowadays, with all this boutique libraries, it’s possible to get amazing sounds that otherwise would have been impossible. Like the seal one.
It’s obvious, but it’s also pretty interesting that many of us, sound designers, still have that proud of saying “hey, I just use things I recorded myself”… and that’s cool, I’m not saying it’s not. But, with all this amazing sounds and resources available, we all need to rethink how we create and produce. Well, back to the seminar…
Another good insight Craig shared was about his workflow. He prefers not to “stack” plugins, one over the other, but “print” the effects, and them process the sound again, and print again, until he finds the sound he wants. He did;t stated why he prefers to work this way, but maybe the reason is the same as Matthew Marteinsson (Klei Studios sound designer) – discussed in this article from the blog “Inspirations and Perspiration: getting things done” – less overthinking, more doing, testing and trying.
Least, but not less importante, Craig gave an advice for new sound designers, trying to break into the business: work. Work in everything you can.
Well, if you wanna know more about the sound design of Stranger Things, the A Sound Effect blog made a great interview with Craig and Brad North (sound editor): How the outstanding sound for ‘Stranger Things’ is made
Or, you can listen to the interview from the same article here.
Well, hope you enjoyed!
Mauricio Ruiz – www.mauricioruiz.me