Lock On – Papers, Printers and Police (part 1 of 3)

‘Lock On’ was a music video that I had a lot of fun creating the Sound Design and composing the Intro Soundtrack for. It is a combination of suspense, storyline, culture though music and cinema. I had the honour of having a role in setting the mood via audio at the start of the music video. Let’s see how it was done.

The Music Video

‘Lock On’ is the latest release from Soca Artiste, Erphaan Alves. You can see/hear his music via his Youtube channel here. Erphaan is a singer/songwriter who was awarded Best New Male Soca Artist in the International Soca Awards 2012 and he was also an MTV IGGY Artiste of The Week that year. His song, “On D Spot” was also featured on an episode of MTV Real World.

The video was Directed by multi-award winning Film Director, Steven Taylor, he and I have worked on a number of projects together since 2012 and it is my job to translate the visions he has in his mind into audio form. We are also fortunate to have as Producer the Director’s wife, Rheem Taylor, who is a member of  SAG-AFTRA.

Please enjoy the following video

The sounds that you hear at the beginning of the video (the first 40 seconds) are made up of three parts. 1. Sound Design. 2. Voices. 3. Intro Music. I was asked by the Director to oversee numbers 1 and 3.

I created separate audio stems that can be later combined by the video editor. The reason separate stems were sent was because, in case of any audio mixing issues, the editor can raise/lower the volumes of the stems to better fit into the audio levels of the main music in the video. Here is the combined mix of those stems:

Here is the stem of the Sound Design only:

Here is the mix of the Intro Soundtrack

In these three blogs I will explain the logic/construction of these elements to compliment visuals and enhance the story of the music video.

Papers

Actually …… lets start with the camera first. The camera was a combination of two separate elements – the beep sound (repeated twice in quick succession) and the opening/closing of the camera shutter. The Director wanted the sound of a DSLR camera but I did not have the beep that a DSLR camera makes so I had to construct it.

I went online to hear how a DSLR camera sounds and found the musical note the beep makes (it’s the note B by the way), then I took the beep sound I had and raised it a few semitones. Afterwards I then aligned both the beep sounds and the camera shutter to the camera flash of the video.

There are two distinct paper sounds that were edited from a paper shuffling sample I have. The first one was a gentler sound as the paper comes out of the printer; the second one was a more rougher, louder and abrupt sound. The instruction I received from the Director is when the paper is passed from one hand to the next that a cue sound (a cinematic boom in this case) would indicate another dramatic part of the video intro. I also had this reflected in the sounds of the paper. Look at the sizes of the paper sounds (in blue). The one on the left of the timeline is the sound from the printer and the other is the sound of the paper exchanging hands.

Printers

Go back and watch the music video again. What do you notice about the printer? Do you even see the printer? Do you see something in the corner of the video that may or may not look like one? The truth is even I do not know if the prop was actually a printer – I was not on set. What I DO know is that I have to create the sound of an actual, functioning printer that is diegetically placed in that space. According to Filmsound,  diegetic sound is “any sound presented as originated from source within the film’s world.” Keep this in mind for this and the other two blogs in this series. It will assist you in appreciating the subtleties of Sound Design when you are watching a film, theatre production or video.

In terms of the printer, the sound does not immediately start at a loud volume. The camera’s focus is on Dexter Stewart (known in the entertainment industry as Blaxx). As he turns around he starts to walk towards something. The printer sound indicates what he is walking towards and gradually increases in volume. This makes the viewer focus on what he is doing – operating the printer and eventually taking out the paper.

….. and Police

In the Sound Design Stem you would have heard, immediately after the camera shutter some room ambience. This is because in nature, unless you are in a vacuum, you would never be in a place where there is absolutely NO sound. In fact, it will be very unnatural to do that in film.

The Director wanted to show a different scene from where the ladies were being held so, he indicated it by showing a zoomed-in map with the name ‘St. James Police Barracks’. To assist in the change of scene The Director asked me to use radio communication sounds to emulate a Police stakeout.

 

This went well as the dialogue in the scene added to the realism. As they are watching the monitor there are glitches on the screen so I used radio static Sound Effects and aligned them to the video.

And Finally ….

You would notice that there are cinematic booms – four in all. The Director wanted to create a feeling of suspense at what he felt were key parts of the intro in the music video. These are 1. The revelation of Blaxx. 2. The paper changing hands. 3. The revelation of Erphaan Alves. 4. The Logo/Name of Song. All these elements, combined with further Sound Design, Intro Music and visuals set up the storyline and compels the viewer to keep watching the video all the way to the end.

I hope you have enjoyed this first (of 3) blogs of the creation of the Sound Design and Intro Soundtrack for Erphaan Alves’ music video ‘Lock On’. It would be great to read your comments and hear your feedback below. The next blog in this series deals with the most challenging (and the Director’s favourite Sound Design) part of the video. The title is called ‘The Steps of Blaxx’.

 

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