A child is playing upstairs with their toys, happy and carefree. The babysitter has just stepped out for a moment; “I need to go pickup the pizza. They don’t want to deliver. Just stay in your room and I’ll be back in five minutes.” The child nods and continues giggling and playing.
The babysitter leaves, and her car takes off. Not a minute later, the child is startled by the sound of a window breaking downstairs. Frightened, they crawl under the bed. Heavy footsteps make their way down the hall as the child begins crying. They stop right outside the child’s door, and it opens slowly.
There is a moment of silence, the child holding a hand over their mouth, trying not to make any noise. They can’t hear the intruder stepping cautiously towards the bed. The covers are thrown aside, exposing the child to the dark and twisted face. They scream.
I decided to do the Sound Effects Story assignment, as a way to really get a grasp of what audio storytelling is like. With the lack of verbal communication, it forces you to think about what sounds are important to convey the story you’re trying to tell. It also taught me how to mix and edit sounds, and organize them in a way that fit into the story.
Once again using Audacity, because I already know how to use it and it’s free and those are two things that I love, I had already thought up the basics of the story before I started working on it. Once I knew what I kind of wanted to convey, I went to Freesound and started looking up sounds that would fit with what I wanted.
That was probably the most difficult part. I believe the sounds are mostly user-generated, so that can lead to a lot of…interesting little obstacles. It can range from quality issues, not being able to narrow down the search, having pretty vague categories (when I search “child”, I don’t necessarily mean “baby”). But, it did help me sometimes. In some searches, I would find sounds that I could use later on that would be perfect.
Anyway, after you find what you need, download it (you have to sign up for the site to download things), and then open it up in Audacity. I’m sure there’s a way to open multiple files in one folder, but I didn’t look up that information to see if there was a way. So basically I opened up the main file/first sound, then opened additional sounds in another file, and copy+pasted them onto the main file.
Next, I put it all together in Audacity. This part of the process was a lot of copying and pasting together various clips, reducing the volumes of some, increasing the volumes of others. I had to do a pitch-shift for the breathing, and a lot of just generally shifting things around to line up properly.
As time-consuming as it was (and that may be my own fault), it wasn’t a difficult process, and was extremely fun to do.