Oh short animation Ark, how you broke my heart. Here’s a film I designed and created the sound for, as well as composing the music.

As part of a Europe wide, film student sound design competition, we were provided with the acclaimed short Ark, with no sound whatsoever, and charged with designing a soundtrack for it. So just mute the sound on your PC for a moment while your watching this and you’ll know what we faced at the beginning!

As with all animation, it’s completely silent to start with as there is no live action taking place for a microphone to record, so all the basic sounds a designer and the audience take for granted are missing, such as footsteps, the sound of skin touching things or clothes rustling. Also, there is no dialogue in this film, so the viewer is even more dependant on the sound to tell the story.

The sound I wanted to create was a stark, industrial and oppressive one, one with no natural or earthy sounds until the final scenes. For this I trawled through various sound libraries, twisting and playing with old mechanical sounds, my favourite being the sound of a WWII submarine recorded from the inside of a one of its missile tubes.

Doing foley for a film can be interesting too. From recording the hum of the fridge to hugging the porcelain throne in the bathroom, spewing up water and sweet corn (you’ll see why), you find yourself doing some odd things!

Even with the sound done, I had to add some music to bring some more mood into it. So I sat down with Apple’s GarageBand music program and put my basic piano training to some use for once.

Thanks to Geoff Perrin, Simon Doyle, Blanaid Hennessy, Colm Purcell and Sean Plunkett for their inputs and voice overs.

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