Roar! Monster Sounds in GameSynth
Creating monster vocalisations can be as fun as it is challenging. Having a sizeable archive of distinct animal recordings is a good place to start, but we often need a bit more than that to perfectly match the creature we’re designing for. This challenge can be compounded when creating sounds for games, as we are often required to create a few variations as well. This month, we will be looking at using GameSynth to augment our toolkit for designing some impressive roars.
The envelopes of organic sounds tend to contain a great deal of nuance. Since these generally aren’t straightforward to synthesise, recorded samples are a great place to start! When picking our base, we want to find a sound with the kind of shape and character that we want to emphasise. The examples in this blog feature a recording of a cow mooing.
To parameterise our base and remove it from sounding too familiar, we can use the modules explicitly designed for vocal synthesis. The Creature module, coupled with a Formant Filter is a perfect fit for this situation, and it will give us a highly controllable synthetic element to customise.
To control the formant vowel shaping over time, we can send an Envelope control signal to the morphing input on the left. To create some variations, we can open the dropdown of the vowels and tick the boxes next to the vowels in the Formant Filter. This will randomly pick two vowel shapes to morph between before each playback.
Then, we can take the original cow sample and Cross Synthesise it with our Creature setup, using our sample as the modulator. This process uses the timbre of the Creature part with the amplitude envelope of our cow sample, which already nets us a pretty neat hybrid.
To make creatures sound more terrifying, we might want to reach for some distortion and EQ. Although bass can emphasise the scale of the monster, it’s those mid to high-frequency bits that really denote whether the creature is friend or foe. A great way to do this is by using a Convolver with some form of distorted signal. This helps to add character to the sound, as well as to introduce some high-frequency flavouring.
We can make use of the Motor to generate our “distorted” signal. This module allows full control of its start, hold, and release times, as well as its speed and relative levels. Randomising these parameters can give us some tasty variations in our final renders. We can then convolve this signal, adjusting its quality based on how gritty we want it to sound. The example below has three renders with Quality set to 4, 6, and 10 respectively.
Since the vocal quality comes from the Motor, playing around with the rotor, brush, and stator levels can help to shape the tone, especially when used in conjunction with an EQ to further highlight these features.
Every good sound design needs some sweetening and glue to bring it all together. Once we have our convolved signal, we can process our sound through the Tube, Compressor, and Saturator. Since we’ve effectively processed the organic element out of our sound, we can use the Tube to help mimic the effect of sound passing through the throat. It’s a subtle effect, but it helps to act like reverb does in a mix, gluing the parts together in the same space. Then finally, the Compressor reigns in our levels, since big distorted sounds tend to clip; and the Saturator further brightens and loudens our sound back up to a reasonable level.
Adjusting randomisation quantities and tweaking the various other parameters, especially in the Motor and Creature modules, can uncover a considerable range of tonal flexibility.