September 30, 2015

Inside Interplanetary: Behind the Sound

My name’s Jack Powell and I am the sound designer for Interplanetary. My role was to create all the sound effects that you hear in-game. In this brief write up I will be dissecting a few sound effects from the game, specifically the main menu ambience and the building sounds for the nuclear plant and water mine. So grab your scalpel and let’s begin.

Main Menu Ambience

The main menu ambient loop sits discreetly in the background and lets the theme music take the forefront.

The loop has 2 layers. The first layer is a processed version of a recording NASA's Voyager made of interstellar plasma sounds! Science! (NASA has made a bunch of fascinating copyright free audio recordings available on their Soundcloud for people to listen and download, I highly recommend you check them out.)

I pitched the sound down and set up a prefade send to a dark chamber reverb to add depth. It felt a bit static so to add some dynamics I automated the reverb send level so it builds and fades away in places.

The second layer is a low rumble sound I made for the planets, which is a recording of my old bathroom extractor fan pitched down and filtered.

Nuclear Plant

When you place a building it should sound gratifying and have characteristics similar to the building type. For the nuclear power build sound I used layers of sounds associated with energy and concrete/brick construction.

It is made up of 4 layers. A recording I made of a refrigerator humming, the startup sound of a hard drive and some wood and brick impacts.

I processed the sounds using pitch shifting, reverbs, EQ and some light compression. The brick and wood impacts were pitched down to add more punch and represent the initial construction of the building. The fridge hum and HDD startup sounds quickly fade in after as if the power plant is powering up and becoming operational.

And all mixed together

Water Mine

As with the power plant, and a lot of the other building sounds, I used elements that would fit the building type. So, no surprises I used the sound of water, a heavy river flowing to be precise. I also added in a snippet of a construction site ambience where a worker is hammering. The final layer is a sound I made using Sonic Charge’s Synplant. I don’t remember how I got the end result but it sounds similar to a big turbine pulsating or spinning. Well in my head it does.

For these sounds I only used high pass filters on the construction and water sounds and boosted the mids of the synthetic layer.

I synced up the pulses with the hammer hits which gave it a mechanical feel, as if a big turbine was being powered.

That wraps it up. Thanks for reading and I hope that you found this interesting. If you have any questions shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer them. /