Thursday, June 23, 2016

In Depth: Sound Design For Animation: "Infestation" by Cable Hardin

I've blogged about "Infestation" before, but I thought I'd get into the specifics of the sound design a little more in this entry.

First of all, here's the completed film, an experimental animated short by Cable Hardin:

Hardin developed "Infestation" by cutting together assorted test footage, intending the result specifically for entry into screenings of extremely short films.

I was attracted to the irony of the imagery, which tells a story almost accidentally. Given the subdued color palette and papery textures I used as much raw, unadorned sound as I could. I wanted it to come across like a documentary, as if all the audio had been captured on location while the footage was "shot".

I recorded a fair amount of voiceover for this film: my vocal performances (sped up) provide the voice of the cockroach, the buzzing of the flies and mosquitoes, and the sound of the ants scuttling up over the foot at about :24. The ambience in the foot shot is a recording of my back yard in the south Minneapolis neighborhood where I used to live.

The indoor ambience we hear when we see the walking figure (or just his feet, early on) I recorded from about the third floor atrium of a public building in downtown Minneapolis. The footsteps are samples of me walking in my basement wearing formal shoes.

The interstitial cuts to "black" (cloudy dark grey, anyway) are accompanied by a spooky drone I achieved by slowing the sound of my mom's dishwasher way, way, way down.

The massive impact of the bug's foot at :43 is a library sound effect. In that particular shot I slowed down some restaurant ambience (a recording I made while dining at a local pho place) to blend in with the more echoey atrium audio, speeding up the cafe sound to achieve its normal rate of playback where we see the fly sitting in the coffee shop (at least I decided it was in a coffee shop, rather than at home). When the fly flicks the guy off the table, I used not a wilhelm, but a library vocalization that sounds like a wilhelm-- an ersatz wilhelm, if you will.

As of this writing "Infestation" has screened at a very cool festival in Italy, and appears bound for more festival screenings as well. Stay tuned!

More sound + music by Mike Hallenbeck for animation

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