Sound effects (or audio effects) are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media.An animated cartoon is a film for the cinema, television or computer screen, which is made using sequential drawings, as opposed to animations in general, which include films made using clay, puppet and other means.In the 1910s, animated cartoons were also being produced as series. it was developed ways of speeding up the drawing process using translucent paper, which enabled quicker drawing. The decade also witnessed the rise of the cell animation process and other important advances.
In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself.Composing for a cartoon series has its own unique set of challenges that differentiate it from live‑action scoring. Having just wrapped up scoring 52 episodes of a new series called SuperNormal, I’d like to take you through the process so that you’ll know what to expect and how to avoid the potential pitfalls that are common when writing music for a cartoon.
Landing The Gig
As with any scoring job, getting a gig composing for an animated series can come from a variety of scenarios: the people who run the show have worked with you before, someone recommends you, right place, right time, bribery, blackmail and a host of other possibilities. On SuperNormal, I had worked with one of the producers before on another show which enabled me to get my name thrown into the hat. There are many factors that go into getting any gig and the composer never gets the whole story. All you can do is listen to what the show‑runners want and come up with something that excites you and fits their vision.
Theme & Variations
Every TV show — animated or not — needs a theme song. In the case of kids’ shows, the theme songs can be pretty literal and a great way to share a back‑story so the viewer understands the premise. The challenge is making the information sound like a song. There’s a confusing movement in television right now to have everything not sound like what it is.
The actual setup I used while scoring SuperNormal was pretty modest. The whole score was done on my Mac using Logic. I rely on a massive amount of sampler instruments and soft synths to get the job done. I do record live guitar in spots, but for the most part it’s all done virtually. The production company provides me with a QuickTime file of the episode that I load into Logic, and then I save a Screenset in my session. Another advantage to scoring an animated series is that cartoon video files are much simpler than their live-action counterparts, so small files can be used without sacrificing quality.
In a cartoon like SuperNormal, the music has different roles that are constantly converting. In most instances, you’re playing to or against the action, while at other times the music is simply keeping the show moving along. Sometimes the music parodies familiar pop culture themes, and sometimes the music leaves space for comedy to happen. And then, of course, there are instances when the music is used like sound design, as an effect.
It’s hard to explain the process from a creative standpoint but I will say that, for me, it’s a kind of spontaneous composition. I look at the scene and just start writing. Many times I’ll start playing piano and compose in the traditional sense, while other times I will put down a groove and build it up. Your character themes come in handy because they will always give you a good starting point.
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- Comedy Sounds and Cartoon Sound Effects
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