Sound as a Muse

I’ve been processing sound files to create a foundation for animation. I’m building on last year’s work around incongruent foley and non-diagetic sound. I’m starting with sound, and then seeing what animation shows up for me based on what I’m hearing.

This post is about some of the devices I’m using to accomplish this. I find inspiration in them, and maybe you will, too.

Years ago, I accumulated and compiled a lot of “found sounds” with a portable mini-disc set up. I used to carry one around, along with a pair of Shure SM-58 microphones, and record stuff. This is before iPhones. The sound on the Mini-Disc is really great, but it’s impossible for me to get the source files off of the proprietary hardware, other than through the headphone jacks. That’s pretty shitballs, but, whatever. I’ve never been much more than a lofi fellow, anyway.

Mini-disc players

In addition to the many hours of weird stuff from the mini-discs, I dug up some old cassette players.

Now, Lookit this beaut! It has four stereo outputs, which means I can use it to send a signal to four different processors/amps/whatever. I call it the Bell & Howler.

Bell & Howell tape deck

Additionally, I’ve enjoyed using Red Panda’s Particle to add a little English to the tapes. You can hear this in the video below.

Emerson Walkman and Red Panda Particle pedal

I’m also a big fan of Red Panda’s Tensor, which is like a tape loop machine with a hyperdrive.

Mini-tape deck

My buddy Jack Livingston was in Colorado in the late 1970’s, and he attended a series of workshops hosted by Beatnik poet, Allen Ginsberg. We share a love for Beat culture and writing, and Jack loaned me some recordings from those sessions. I’m going to use some of this in an upcoming, literary inspired animation.

Allen Ginsberg Tapes

Thrift stores are FULL of odd old tapes, there’s no shortage of material to be found on them. These are great for making short loops.

Disassembled tape cassette
Short tape loop

Finally, I use my iPhone to capture stuff all the time. Using handful of devices in this article, there are endless possibilities for making compelling audio tracks and foley.

I’ll explore how the sounds themselves can inform the visuals for animation in an upcoming post.