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Bikerdude

Request: more interior sounds

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Here is something I attempted. Keep in mind I have zero experience with creating ambients or music of any kind.

 

Home asleep

 

Here's a looped version

Edited by Goldwell

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@Goldwell: Thanks man! Great job.

 

Here is another one.

 

This one should loop straight out from the box.

 

Nope, it doesn't. Oh well!

 

http://www63.zippyshare.com/v/40665700/file.html

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an odd track to say the least and not really when Im looking for, its too busy and the sounds too in-yer-face to used as a background ambient.

It'd certainly work in a basement with no ambient light, provided you were trying to reproduce that desire to sprint up the stairs after you've turned the lights out. Still, definitely not the stuff to be playing in a well-lit main hall. Edited by Airship Ballet

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@Goldwell: Thanks man! Great job.

 

Here is another one.

 

 

This is also very good. You really should document how it is done. If it is an easy recipe, an example tutorial from start to finish would be very useful wiki contribution for people who have some special ambients in mind. Custom ambients are very interesting, because stock TDM ambients are getting so familiar that some variety would be much desired.

 

I gave audacity a spin and yes, making spooky ambient is easy, but I cannot reach your quality level. I call this "Souls lost in nuclear winds", because... well, it has a Fallout-y vibe.

http://www67.zippysh...85722/file.html

 

I did that by taking stock TDM audio files (wind and some metal screeches plus distant people sounds.).

I pushed all the sounds through Paulstretch effect and changed the pitch and tempo a little. Very easy.

 

Also, if Goldwell could describe how to make stuff loop seamlessly, that would be great, too. Don't give the man a fish, but rather teach them to fish in order to feed them for a lifetime and so on... ;)


Clipper

-The mapper's best friend.

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Also, if Goldwell could describe how to make stuff loop seamlessly, that would be great, too. Don't give the man a fish, but rather teach them to fish in order to feed them for a lifetime and so on... ;)

 

I have a workflow for this using REAPER (one of the best value-for-money DAWs in existence, but not completely free). Although it's a while since I've done it I can post a tutorial at some point if there is a need for it.

 

Regarding repetitiveness of ambients: it's not the repetitiveness itself which is the problem, but having a loop with very obvious "structure" and in-your-face elements which make the repetition obvious. Think of the first "Inside at last" ambient from Bafford's: it was pretty much nothing more than "Bom...bom...bom...bom...bom...bom...", which is about as repetitive as you can get, but it worked because it was so homogeneous and unobtrusive (almost like a heartbeat).

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Also, if Goldwell could describe how to make stuff loop seamlessly, that would be great, too. Don't give the man a fish, but rather teach them to fish in order to feed them for a lifetime and so on... ;)

 

Ha yes I was going to get around to that today, Mondays are a bit hectic for me :)

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I'm working on writing a description of my workflow in Audacity.

 

I only have so much time to work on this, so I decided to dump a rough draft here. Once it's finished I'll make it a separate thread, but maybe Sotha can get something out from this already:

 

 

 

Composing Ambient Sound for Dummies

v. 0.1 - A Wall of Text for Sotha Edition

 

This guide describes my method for creating ambient sound without any prior musical or audio knowledge. It will be fleshed out as I learn more about the process - feel free to add your own comments and suggestions in the thread.

 

What tools do you need to create an ambient?

  • Audacity (Free: Win/Mac/Linux)
  • Freesound.org (Requires free sign-up)
  • A good pair of headphones
  • 2-3 hours of free time

This tutorial assumes that you have at least some prior knowledge of Audacity.

 

With these simple tools and a bit of patience you too can produce a piece of ambient audio with relative ease. Just don't expect to become Eric Brosius overnight.

 

Gathering samples

 

The first part of your process is deciding what type of sound you want to make. Do you want something completely abstract or maybe slightly rhytmic? Will the sound be used indoors or outdoors? What type of space and mood is it supposed to convey?

 

For the purpose of this tutorial, let's pick the following keywords and themes:

  • Cemetary
  • Outdoors
  • Horror

Once we have our preliminary themes set, let's get started on picking our samples. The samples you will be using belong roughly to two categories: Longer samples, that will be used to create the main ambient, and shorter samples that will be layered on top to stop the ambient from becoming too monotonous.

 

Let's choose a longer sample for the base ambient first. As we are talking about an outdoors area, a recording of the wind howling seems like a good starting point.

Go to freesound.org and search for "wind howl" - after you've searched for the keyword, make sure you filter the results by the "Creative Commons 0" license by using the menu on the right hand side. This means you are free to do whatever you wish with the audio files without any copyright issues.

 

Now listen to some of the samples available to you. For your base ambient you want to pick a recording that has some melody or variance to it: changes in pitch and frequency will keep your ambient from becoming just a single flat note.

 

For our cemetary example I picked the following recording of an electric pole under stress from the wind. Let's add that sound to our project: Simply drag and drop the file into your open Audacity window, and the audio clip will be opened into your project. Once we have our first audio track in place, it's time to start experimenting how we can create an ambient out of it.

 

Adding effects

 

Audacity has a handful of simple but powerful effects that can be used to create more abstract ambient audio from your sample. Here is a short run-through of the most imporant ones found in the Effects drop-down menu on the top bar:

  • Fade in / Fade out: Used to smooth the transition to and from a sound effect. Use these to avoid clicks or sudden spikes when layering audio samples on top of each other.
  • Echo: Exactly what it says on the tin - adds an echo effect with your specified delay.
  • Noise Removal: Used to remove noise from low-quality recordings, but can be used to achieve all sorts of effects. Select an element you'd like removed from the track by highlighting it in Audacity, open Noise Removal and choose "Get noise profile." Next highlight the part of the track you want that element to be removed from and execute the effect. Experimenting with this effect can produce interesting changes in your audio tracks.
  • Repeat: Can be used to loop a highlighted part of the track multiple times.
  • Change Tempo / Speed / Pitch: These three effects are your main tools in modifying the audio samples. Change Pitch adjusts the frequency of the audio: usually ambients tend to be in the lower frequencies. Change Tempo changes the speed of the audio without affecting the pitch. To adjust the speed and the pitch at the same time, use Change Speed
  • Paulstretch: Stretches out the highlighted piece of audio. You can produce very cool ambient sound by stretching short pieces of audio. Try stretching something like a piano key strike or a single string of the violin to 10-20 seconds.
  • Reverb: Produces a similar but much more subtle effect to echo by simulating how sound traverses in a closed space. Gives your audio more oomph and makes it more organic sounding, which is a must for a good ambient track. You might want to apply this effect to specific tracks or after the whole project has been put to together depending on the samples you are using.
  • Reverse: This flips the audio temporally. A lot of common everyday sounds are produce interesting results when played in reverse. Try things like creaking doors, musical instruments and even spoken words.
  • Amplify: Used to make a sound louder or more quiet.

The audio track we have selected for this tutorial is very high pitched, so let's start by lowering the frequency. Choose the Change Pitch effect and try out different values. For the purposes of this tutorial I settled on lowering the frequency by -80 percent: at that point the audio becomes a much more subtle hum.

 

There are still some remains of high pitched howls in the background however, which make the audio sound almost a bit driving. We could choose to go with the flow and enhance that with something like samples of a violin, but for now let's try to eliminate the urgency. Our aim is to create a haunting piece after all. Use the Change Speed effect and try out different values. I found that at minus 35 percent speed the track starts to sound like the sort of creepy ambient we are looking for.

 

At this point our audio file has become unnecesarrily long. Let's cut it down to roughly a minute or a bit more. You can save the audio you have made so far before trimming it, so that you can fall back to this point later if something gets mucked up. Next we will start layering audio on top of the main ambient.

 

Layering

 

The trick to a good ambient is creating layers of sound with different audio samples on top of the main ambient that makes up the background of the track. Let's go back to freesound.org and look for some more audio that might fit our horror cemetary theme - maybe a rustling sound to tense the nerves?

 

Searching for "rustling" on freesound.org I picked the following sample of rustling an empty garbage bag. Doesn't sound like much, right? Not yet anyway. Let's add that to our project as well by dragging and dropping it into the Audacity window: the new track should show up right below our main ambient.

 

You can mute and enable each track individually by using the small button on the left-hand side. Let's mute the main ambient for now so we can concentrate on our new rustling track. After you have muted the main track, double click on the rustling track to fully highlight it and use the Change Speed effect again to stretch it out to roughly match your main ambient track.

 

For me a 80 percent reduction in speed was enough. The resulting track is now more akin to a small landslide than the rustling of an empty garbage bag, but the audio still needs some work. Lets use the Change Pitch effect to lower the frequency of the sound. At minus 60 percent frequency the track starts to sound like a proper thunderstorm.

 

Thunder is not what we are after this time though, so lets use another trick on it. The Paulstretch effect can be used to "smear" an audio track by using a large timescale with a stretch factor of 1. Let's smear the rustling track by using a timescale of 2. The resulting audio should sound like wind humming in the background. Now would be a good time to listen to both of our audio tracks layered: unmute the base ambient track and listen to your creation.

 

You'll notice that the humming wind we created is overpowering our base ambient a bit: you can adjust it by using the volume slider of each track near the mute button. Try lowering the audio of the humming track until the sounds layer nicely: lowering the humming track by about 10dB seems to do the trick. Once we have the two tracks layered nicely, we could search for some more tracks to layer on top or we could start to break up the monotony of the track by adding shorter samples.

 

Adding instrument samples

 

By instrument samples I mean shorter samples that are used to give the ambient track structure. In general you want to avoid making the track too rhytmic or melodic, as that will easily make the ambient sound repeative. Still we want to break up the monotony somehow. Think of these samples as instruments played on top of your ambient track, like tiny guitar solos of despair.

 

For our cemetary track I'd like some screams of the damned to amplify the horror element. For that a corruption of many different instruments will do, but for this tutorial I wanted to go with a violin. Searching for a good violin sound I stumbled upon a sample of cutting metal and decided to use that instead.

 

To get out the screams we want lets add the sample to our project and use Paulstretch to stretch it out. This time let's use the default timescale of 0.25 and a stretch factor of about 4 or so. Now the track should be full of unholy howling, but it's a bit too high pitched. We don't want the players to have their ears bleed, so let's cut down on the frequency by at least 80 percent.

 

The result should be a track full of much more mellow crying demons. Next we cut a few pieces from the track: isolate a few good howls and use Ctrl + X and Ctrl + V to place them on a new separate track. Move the howls around and try to line them up with the other tracks so that they are at parts where the other ambient tracks change from one tone to another, or where there is drop in volume. Try different positions and play all the tracks together and adjust the volume so that the howls are not too in your face: a reduction of about 15dB on the howls seems right.

 

While the howls break up some of the monotony, they don't yet mesh too well with the other audio. Lets go ahead and stretch each howl out a bit, but instead of Paulstretch let's use the Change Speed effect: a reduction of about 50 percent makes the howls sound like the Octobrains in Duke Nukem - sweet! I slowed each howl down with a different percentage to make sure the sound are varied. Note that once you slow the howls down, you need to re-align them on the timeline.

 

Now each howl has a bit more sustain, so we can add fade-ins and fade-outs to make the transitions more smooth. Highlight both tails of each howl and apply the right effect. You can experiment with different lengths of fade-in and fade-out.

 

Our track finally starts to have some structure, the fact that it is made up of only lower frequency sounds makes it sound muddled. Let's add some higher notes by using a bell sound - that fits well with our cemetary theme. The bell sound I used can be found here.

 

The bell track I used has an increasing volume towards the end, so instead of using the whole track I just cut two bell strikes from the beginning. After that I used some of the same effects we have been using previously to distort the sound to my liking. I then copied the sound a few times to create a track where the distorted bell sound is repeated. I then created a copy of the bell track and slowed it down using Change Speed to create a second layer of bell sounds.

 

After that I went through the process of adjusting the volume of each track until I found what I felt was the perfect mix.

 

This is what the final result looks like in Audacity. (Note that yours will not probably look exactly alike, it's cool!)

 

To finalize my track I used the Tracks > Mix and render to compile all my tracks into one and applied the Reverb effect on the compiled track to give it some more oomph. The last thing left is to give your track a cool name.

 

This is what the final result sounds like. Not that bad for roughly an hour worth of work, right?

 

Haunted Ground

 

 

Edited by kyyrma

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Hey Kyyrma,

 

Just wanted to pop in and say you're definitely on the right track though :-). My favorite ambient tracks have just a bit of melody in them over the standard drone/aural haze (like the horn of quintus track), and this most recent version has that. I think what Biker is saying is that for an interior track, the drone/haze in the background is too tense/disconcerting. But great stuff!


But you should walk having internal dignity. Be a wonderful person who can dance pleasantly to the rhythm of the universe.

-Sun Myung Moon

 

My work blog: gfleisher.blogspot.com

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(like the horn of quintus track)

I made this to pass a couple minutes after Kyyrma reminded me how fun it is to make ambients; if it were more melancholy and less desolate it'd probably fit into the Bonehoard :ph34r:

 

Anyway, the majority of 'mansion' music used in the Thief series is either those low, droning hums, a hum accompanied by a twinkling sound or just straight-up horror ambience that's really quite spooky when isolated. It's hard to tell what you mean by 'mansion' music, as when I think of it, I think of quiet, drawn-out strings. That said, you don't want anything melodic, so I'd distort the strings beyond recognition like I did with that ambient up there, but then you'd say it fit a cave or something instead. It's hard to imagine anything fitting in a mansion that doesn't fall into either of those categories, so I'm stumped.

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I made this to pass a couple minutes after Kyyrma reminded me how fun it is to make ambients; if it were more melancholy and less desolate it'd probably fit into the Bonehoard :ph34r:

 

Holy audio clipping, Batman! My first thought was that it sounded like something that belonged on a David Attenborough documentary about whale mating habits.

 

It's hard to tell what you mean by 'mansion' music, as when I think of it, I think of quiet, drawn-out strings. That said, you don't want anything melodic, so I'd distort the strings beyond recognition like I did with that ambient up there, but then you'd say it fit a cave or something instead. It's hard to imagine anything fitting in a mansion that doesn't fall into either of those categories, so I'm stumped.

 

Agreed. Here's a couple of ambients I made myself some time ago:

 

https://soundcloud.com/orbweaver3d/sets/dark-mod-ambients

 

But similarly, I'm not sure if they are sufficiently "mansion-y" for Biker's needs. Perhaps he is looking for something "warmer" and less creepy, such as the music from the library in Return to the Cathedral or the entrance to the lady's tower in the first mission from Deadly Shadows.

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@AB, if the main noise was half the volume level this could be viable, but like Orbs mentioned some clipping in places.

 

@Orbs, hmmm very clean and crisp but like Kyyrma's a bit busy to be a background ambient

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AB, I can't access your ambient. Just doesn't load the page.

 

Had some time to screw around this afternoon. This more what you're looking for? I did the slow-pad thing Sotha asked. There's a small pop when a note is played, not quite sure what's causing that. I think it's something with the reverb but haven't bothered to solve it.

It's way less musically complicated than the other ambients, figured that might be a selling point. Most work was in the sound design and getting the reverb/release timings right.


You can call me Phi, Numbers, Digits, Ratio, 16, 1618, or whatever really, as long as it's not Phil.

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Unfortunately that one buzzes horribly if played through my laptop speakers or earphones. I tried it with a little Bluetooth headset and it sounds okay through that, so it must just be a problem with tinny speakers, but normally I can play TDM on my laptop without needing to bring the headset along.


Some things I'm repeatedly thinking about...

 

- louder scream when you're dying

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Holy audio clipping, Batman!

It's intentional. I had a cliché dirty record effect originally but just decided to make it grungier, bearing in mind I was completely aimless in making it and fancied experimenting ^_^

This more what you're looking for?

Here's a couple of ambients I made myself some time ago

Both something I'd use in a map, definitely.

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Unfortunately that one buzzes horribly if played through my laptop speakers or earphones. I tried it with a little Bluetooth headset and it sounds okay through that, so it must just be a problem with tinny speakers, but normally I can play TDM on my laptop without needing to bring the headset along.

Yeah if your speakers are quite small it might be right on the edge of what they can handle. Probably doesn't help it's a somewhat "pure" wave sound. There's the base sine, which is at exactly D2 and then an offset sine which is a bit higher and adds tension to the final product.

Edited by 161803398874989

You can call me Phi, Numbers, Digits, Ratio, 16, 1618, or whatever really, as long as it's not Phil.

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When the repeating tone swells and then fades, the end of the tone has a *blip* sound after it gets nearly silent that needs removed by decreasing the volume. I would think just seemlessly blending the pulse swell in to the end of the fade so it never quite goes away and there is no *blip* sound at the end of the pulse would sound better but that's just my opinion. Other than that I like it.

Edited by Lux

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